Catalano said the change, which went into effect this week, grew out of concerns about student privacy, but others criticized them as a blow to transparency.
The daily log, which is required for all University police forces by Massachusetts law, previously included records of a wide variety of misdeeds which could not lead to criminal charges—from noise complaints and parking violations to reports of “suspicious activity.”
By contrast, the most recent log, for the week ending July 5 (see page 7), is made up exclusively of burglary and larceny reports. Those complaints which do not involve crimes will now be presented in aggregate statistical form at the start of the log, without detailed information on times, places or circumstances.
Boston attorney Harvey A. Silverglate, co-director of campus watchdog group the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said the new format was unacceptable, calling a comprehensive police log—including police activities not relating to criminal acts—“an essential part of democracy.”
“In a democracy the governed are entitled to know what their public servants are doing,” he said.
The decision to change the log format hinges on conflicting interpretations of the 1991 state law requiring university police forces like HUPD to make such records publicly available.
The relevant section of the General Laws of Massachusetts (MGL) states that these forces “shall make, keep and maintain in a daily log...all responses to valid complaints received, crimes reported, the names, addresses of persons arrested and the charges against such persons arrested.”
Catalano said that HUPD believes “valid complaints” means “any complaint about criminal activity.”