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Evolving Campus Policing

Smith College is embarking on a year-long, community-focused process to re-envision the leadership and structure of its campus policing. Updates, including schedules for listening and feedback sessions, will be collected on this site. 

Updates & Letters to the Community

From the Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration

Monday, June 10, 2019

Dear students, staff and faculty: 

I am writing today to announce a year-long, community-focused process to re-envision the leadership and structure of our campus police force. 

Since 2009, Smith College has been a member of a joint police force with partner institutions within the Five Colleges—Mount Holyoke and Hampshire colleges from 2009 to 2018, and then Mount Holyoke College from 2009 to today. In recent years, we have increasingly recognized the need to develop approaches to campus policing that are tailored to the specific needs of our own campus. Therefore, Mount Holyoke and Smith have decided to return to operating their own independent campus police departments by July 1, 2020. 

In the coming months, we will engage members of the Smith community in a thoughtful, inclusive process. As part of this process, we will examine the needs of our community and launch a search for a campus police leader dedicated to serving those needs—including, first and foremost, the safety of our students, staff and faculty.

Additionally, both Smith and Mount Holyoke will continue working in close concert during and after the separation to ensure a successful transition. Throughout this year, both colleges pledge to maintain a responsive, respectful and uninterrupted level of professional service through the existing joint police force. Members of the Smith community can still contact Campus Police by dialing 2490 from any campus phone or 413-585-2490 from a cell phone or off campus.

We welcome your feedback on this process. A more detailed timeline, which will include listening sessions and focus groups to be held this summer and fall, will be shared with the community as soon as it is available. Until that time, I invite you to share your thoughts and comments with James Gray, associate vice president for facilities, who oversees campus safety and policing at Smith.

Sincerely,

David DeSwert
Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration (effective 7/1/19)


FAQ

Q: Will there be staffing changes to campus police?
A: Because all campus police officers are currently employed by Mount Holyoke College, changes in staffing and reporting structure will be required to create an independent Smith College police force. The college will work closely with campus police staff and union representatives to develop a staffing model that meets the needs of the community.

Q: Will students, faculty and staff have an opportunity to participate in re-envisioning of campus police, including the search for a new Smith College campus police chief?
A: Yes. The college will host listening sessions and provide multiple feedback opportunities throughout the re-envisioning process. Additionally, the search committee for the Smith College campus police chief will have a student representative. The search process will also provide students, staff and faculty with the opportunity to meet finalists and provide feedback.

Q: How can campus police be reached during the transition year?
A: As is currently the case, members of the Smith community will contact campus police by dialing 2490 from any campus phone or 413-585-2490 from a cell phone or off campus.

Q: How long has the campus police collaborative been in place?
A: The collaborative has been in place since 2009. Prior to then, the campuses shared a police chief but not a combined force.

Q: Is this change a response to the recent transition in campus police leadership?
A: No. In recent years, we have increasingly recognized the need to develop approaches to campus policing that are tailored to the specific needs of our own campus.

Q: Is Smith College considering arming its campus police officers?
A: The college has no plans to consider an armed police force. In those situations where a serious crime or act of violence has occurred, campus police partner with the Northampton Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police force based in Northampton to ensure an immediate and comprehensive response.