Tufts will change to a ““hybrid” model of armament of its university police service based on the recommendations of the TUPD Armament Task Forceaccording to a March 29 message to the Tufts community of Executive Vice President and WGTA President Mike Howard. The working group recommended that the authorities move to a hybrid model of armament that specializes the response to the nature of the call.
According to the group final reportthe hybrid model will be paired with a new differential response system. The Department of Public Security will employ the two armed officers and unarmed security professionals, and choose which one to deploy based on the particular public safety situation. Armed, uniformed officers will continue to respond to criminal complaints and “potentially dangerous situations,” while unarmed campus security officers will respond to “most routine calls for duty,” such as lockdowns and most wellness and alarm controls.
The report revealed that TUPD currently employs only one Community Service Officer on the Medford/Somerville campus and plans to hire more as it adapts to the new policing model. Across all of its campuses, Tufts currently employs nearly 50 armed officers.
The TUPD Armament Task Force was formed last year inasmuch as emanation from the working group on security and maintaining order on campuses, which in turn was designed as part of the Tufts as an anti-racist institution initiative. The objective of the WGTA was to take a closer look at the issue of arming TUPD officers, using community data to determine what kind of structural changes might be needed.
“This vision called for a renewed and broader understanding of campus safety that encompassed the physical, psychological and emotional well-being of our entire community,” says the report.
The working group consisted of representatives from all Tufts campusesincluding faculty, students, staff, administrators, a police officer, and executive director of public safety Yolanda Smith. By campus forums, discussion groups, a community weapon survey, and analysis of over 150,000 calls for servicethe group concluded that transitioning to a differential response would be the best course of action.
“A theme we consistently heard throughout our discussions with community members is support for flexibility in response, greater reliance on mental health resources, and low preference for greater community involvement. local police “, Howard wrote in an email to The Daily. “Many of those who participated in our surveys and discussions indicated that they were interested in a differential response, which allows public safety responses to vary depending on the nature of the call, campus and other factors.”
According to the report, most community members interviewed said they would support a departure from the current TUPD operating model, which keeps all officers armed. The data collected by the working group also showed that “Less than half of the Tufts community currently believe that an armed TUPD makes the Tufts community physically safer.” Support for an armed TUPD would have been lowest among undergraduates.
“One of the results of this approach will be fewer interactions between community members and armed officers, which will support the psychological and emotional well-being of our community and reduce potential trauma,” Howard wrote.
Black-smith pointed out that the transition to a differential response model represents just one step the university has taken to rethink campus safety. Tufts also has hired an emergency response and threat assessment manager to manage some of the mental health components of public safety and made other structural changes to the system.
“We are expanding the training TUPD officers receive on mental health issues,” Smith wrote in an email to The Daily. “And we’ve introduced the ability to contact the on-call counselor directly after hours by calling the counseling and mental health services number without having to call dispatch.”
According to the report, officers will have to complete a ‘specialized policing curriculum’ training aimed at reduce the risk of serious physical or psychological harm that may occur during an interaction between police officers and people with mental illness.
groups like the Coalition for Education and the Abolition of Student Prisons they pushed for the restructuring of TUPD for years.
“SPEAC is working to investigate and try to dismantle the ways the prison condition manifests itself at Tufts,” Olivia Barker, a member of the Student Prison Education and Abolition Coalition, said. “Currently our goal is to disarm the TUPD, but our overall goal is the abolition of the TUPD.”
According to the report, the task force decided that disarmament would not be an effective solution to community concerns because it would lead to an increased reliance on municipal police as first responders to many calls for service.
“In those situations where the municipal police would be the first responder, the university would relinquish control and decision-making power,” he added. says the task force report. “As a result, this model would subject members of the Tufts community to municipal police policies and procedures as well as their respective detention and arrest protocols.”
Barker noted that while transitioning to a hybrid model is a step in the right direction, it might not be enough for Tufts to maintain a safe and healthy anti-racism institution.
“It shows that the administration is thinking about disarmament, and is thinking about it,” he added. Barker, a sophomore, said. “But this differential model is actually an increase in policing. They’re hiring security guards on campus, but they’re going to keep… the nearly 50 armed guards they already have. So, even if it is a step to think about it, it is not towards abolition or justice.