BOSTON- On Thursday, July 10, the Massachusetts Senate enacted legislation filed by Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) classifying the University of Massachusetts campus police officers as police and not guards as they are presently classified. Senator Moore is the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education and is the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.
“UMass police officers go through rigorous police training to properly protect students on all 5 UMass campuses. This bill properly classifies them,” stated Senator Moore. “Outside of properly classifying our campus police, this bill allows each campus to enter into a mutual aid agreement with surrounding communities. These mutual aid agreements will go a long way to further ensure the safety of our students, by fostering a working relationship with the local communities.”
“We very much appreciate Senator Moore’s leadership on this important public and campus safety issue, and his distinguished record of service in this critical area,” said UMass President Robert L. Caret. “Senator Moore has devoted countless hours to this effort and his commitment has been unshakeable — and the end result will be a better and safer future for our campuses and our Commonwealth.”
“I want to thank Senator Moore, our South Coast delegation and their colleagues in the Legislature for passing this legislation, which will further enhance the safety of our campus and the greater community,” UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman said. “The aftermath of the Boston Marathon posed unprecedented challenges for our campus and the surrounding community, and I am very proud that our university, local, state and federal public safety officers were able to respond to those challenges in such a professional and effective manner.’’
The bill also gives each campus the opportunity to enter into a mutual aid agreement with surrounding communities. Without a mutual aid agreement, like that held by UMass Amherst, UMass police officers are limited to pursuing police action on the campus boundaries only. This provision was requested by UMass based on the special task force report on the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, where UMass Dartmouth student and suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stored and prepared material used in an off-campus apartment, preventing campus police from potentially taking action.
The bill will now go to Governor Deval Patrick for his considerations.