UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Thanks Lawmakers for Public Safety Mutual Aid legislation

New law, recommended by Boston Marathon Task Force, will allow campus to enter comprehensive collaboration with local police to enhance public safety on and off campus

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman praised lawmakers for passing legislation that will allow the campus to enter into a comprehensive collaboration with local police to enhance the safety of students, faculty, staff, and townspeople both on and off campus. 

"I want to thank our entire SouthCoast delegation and their colleagues at the State House for passing this legislation, which will further enhance the safety of our campus and the greater community," Chancellor 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.'' 

"UMass police officers go through rigorous police training to properly protect students on all 5 UMass campuses. This bill properly classifies them," stated Senator Michael Moore, who filed the original legislation as Senate Chair of the Higher Education Committee. "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." 

"This legislation will give the UMass Dartmouth police department greater flexibility to deal with certain types of incidents, which is critical, especially given the events of last year's Boston Marathon. Greater collaboration between the University and the Town of Dartmouth will help increase responsiveness and preparedness and should give both students and town residents a greater sense of security," said Senator Mark Montigny. "I applaud the efforts of the Chancellor of UMass Dartmouth and her staff for working with me in advancing this important legislation." 

"The most important component of interagency relationships with regard to law enforcement is the ability to be fluid and work together," said Rep. Chris Markey, D-Dartmouth. "This legislation provides for better, more functional relationships between our local police and UMass Dartmouth, and will have the result of improving the safety of students and the community at large." 

"UMass Dartmouth is a center for economic and cultural growth in our region," added Rep. Carole Fiola, D-Fall River. "As we continue to benefit from the contributions of its students, faculty, and staff, public safety on the campus and its vicinity is a top priority. I'm proud to support legislation that promotes such comprehensive coverage and collaboration between town and campus police." 

The legislation, similar to legislation passed for UMass Amherst several years ago, was first proposed by a three-member external task force appointed by Chancellor Grossman in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy. The Task Force, chaired by Montana State University President Waded Cruzado, and included UCONN President Susan Herbst, and Washington, DC-based Police Foundation President James Bueermann, determined that campus police inability to respond to issues off-campus poses risks. 

"Because police activities are not always predictable, and police officers have an inherent bias for action during emergencies, this situation unnecessarily exposes UMass Dartmouth to a level of risk that should be immediately addressed," the report stated. 

Under the legislation, the University and Town of Dartmouth may enter into a mutual aid agreement that could extend UMass Dartmouth police powers off-campus under defined and agreed upon circumstances. The legislation also covers the other UMass campuses. 

"This legislation makes our strong partnership with the Town of Dartmouth Police Department even stronger,'' said Colonel Emil Fioravanti, Director of UMass Dartmouth's Department of Public Safety. "We will now have more opportunities to collaborate with federal, state and local agencies, culminating in a more comprehensive law enforcement response to critical incidents and events.'' 

The bill will now go to Governor Deval Patrick for his consideration.

News and Public Information