Following reports of racism, sexism, and alleged favoritism within Harvard University Police Department, University President Lawrence S. Bacow said in an interview Monday that he supports the review of the department by outside experts.
The allegations, reported by The Crimson in late January, centered around longtime department chief Francis D. “Bud” Riley. In Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination filings, lawsuits, internal documents, meetings with prominent Harvard administrators, and interviews, 21 current and former employees identified Riley as the source of instances of racism and sexism in the department.
Riley, according to employees, favored employees loyal to him and retaliated against those who had voiced concerns about the department.
In the wake of The Crimson’s investigation, Riley announced in a February 5 email to HUPD employees that he will lead an internal review of the department. This review marks the fourth formal assessment of HUPD during Riley’s tenure.
As part of the review, law enforcement experts will examine the internal climate of Harvard’s police department as well as its dealings with the University more broadly.
Bacow said Monday that the department is “committed” to the internal review process and affirmed the inclusion of outside experts in the review.
“It has brought in some outside experts to do a review, and I think it's a good move on the part of the department,” Bacow said. “We're looking forward to seeing what the review produces.”
After the findings of the Crimson investigation became public, student activists called for the resignation of Riley and the abolition of the University’s police department at a rally in Harvard Yard. The protesters demanded an end to the alleged harassment they said they have experienced by Harvard police officers.
When asked about current and former HUPD employees’ lawsuits and filings with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, Bacow said he believes the filings occurred before his tenure.
“I believe most of those filings, or maybe all of them, occurred well before I became president,” Bacow said. “I haven't seen anything that's been filed recently — or any decisions recently.”
Bacow deferred further questions about the internal review to Executive Vice President Katherine Lapp, who oversees HUPD.
“Katie has a tremendous amount of experience in public safety based upon her experience previously in NYC city government, where the Police and the Fire Department reported to her, and Katie is deeply involved in these issues,” he said.
—Staff writer Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.
—Staff writer Ruoqi Zhang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RuoqiZhang3.
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