Report Suggests New Style for Police
When David L. Gorski became chief of University police three years ago, he was given free rein to shape the department in his own image: that of a tough, no-nonsense city cop. Now Gorski is gone, and Harvard administrators are learning that the tough-guy image may not be the best one for the University force.
The Howland report, an independent "management audit" of the University police released to the department last Thursday, supports the contention that critics of the Gorski reforms have maintained all along--that there is an inherent difference between the way a city government runs its police force, and how a university should police itself.
The eight-chapter report, drafted by John T. Howland, executive director of the Institute of Public Service Management in Babson Park, begins by agreeing with Gorski's litany of tough law-enforcement goals. But then it adds, "A campus police department must be equally concerned with the delivery of a variety of services unique to a university setting."
Those "services" include a necessity to deal with students not as potential lawbreakers but as members of a diverse community that traditionally values dissent, the report says. Consequently, the University police must choose between the "authoritarian" Gorski approach and a policy of "selective enforcement," it adds.
"There are many issues that can be addressed and adjusted informally and the police should be given the necessary discretion to pursue such alternatives," the report continues.
Joe B. Wyatt, vice president for administration, said yesterday he believes the report does not represent a break with the Gorski model of an efficient, modern force.
Stressing the Howland study's emphasis on the scientific crime prevention methods that Gorski championed, Wyatt said Howland only offered a different view of methods of crime prevention.
Yet the study also finds fault with a number of Gorski's organizational reforms, which many police officers have long contended have damaged morale within the force.
Son of York
"Unhappiness is widespread and deeply rooted" in the force, the report finds. Officers' concerns about job security, equity in promotions and greater internal communication divide the department--a finding that should hardly surprise members of the Harvard Police Association, the union that has made the "morale question" a key issue in stalled contract negotiations.
The Howland study recommends a series of measures to relieve the tension. These include an assurance of fair standards for promotion within the department, and a reorganization of the force to maximize efficiency and to give officers more responsibility and quthority.
Each of the reforms is, to a degree, a step away from the complex hierarchical structure that Gorski established, and which critics have accused of promoting cronyism among high-level supervisors and officers eager for promotion.
The report's 39 other recommendations range from the highly technical (a lengthy manual of detailed police procedures) to the mundane (admonition that "all members shall remain awake at all times while on duty") to the bizarre (a suggestion that the force develop contingency plans for dealing with "hostage confrontations.")
Yet the key message the report contains is that the University police should become more adept at "interpersonal communications," both within the force, and in their dealings with the rest of the Harvard community.
Wyatt, who commissioned the report in the face of union complaints about a lack of communication within the department, said he will not decide whether to follow Howland's advice until he finds a replacement for Gorski, who resigned in March.
"The next item in my mind is the selection of a new chief" who will decide what to do with the report's recommendations, he said. The decision will probably not come before the beginning of next semester.
In the meantime, the Howland report will be sitting on a number of desks in the Harvard administration. Whether it has an impact on the people who own those desks, or if it simply gathers dust, will have a great effect on the shape the department takes in the next few year