Committee To Improve Police Relations

Harvard will create a Safety Advisory Committee and task the University ombudsman with addressing public safety concerns in an effort to improve relations between University police and the community amid long-standing complaints of unfair treatment of black students and professors, University officials announced Friday.

The newly adopted measures follow a report examining the Harvard University Police Department’s practices released in April that recommended a series of policy changes to “achieve the shared goal of a welcoming, safe, and open environment.”

Following an incident of alleged racial profiling last August, University President Drew G. Faust charged an independent, six-member committee with scrutinizing the diversity training and recruitment efforts of the Harvard police force.

In the weeks before the announcement, black student and faculty leaders had been pushing for the University to address what they viewed as racial profiling by a predominantly white campus police department.

They pointed to the August incident—in which a black high school student was approached by University police while trying to remove the lock from his bike—as well as two other incidents in recent years.

The policy changes are designed to “advance the open communication and trust necessary both for HUPD to accomplish its critical public safety mission and for the broader educational environment Harvard seeks to foster,” University Provost Steven E. Hyman said in a statement.

The University Safety Advisory Committee will advise Harvard administrators and serve as an umbrella group to the existing safety committee at the College.

Kennedy School Professor Mark H. Moore, who served on the original committee that drafted the report, will chair the University committee comprised of faculty, staff, students, and Harvard police representatives.

The announcement did not clarify the specific responsibilities of the safety committee. The University did not respond to a request for comment over the weekend.

University Ombudsman Lydia L. Cummings ’70 will absorb public safety ombudsman responsibilities in her role and bring campus concerns to the attention of administrators and the University Safety Advisory Committee.

In addition to implementing the recommendations, the announcement stated that the University will also expand the role of the police department’s diversity and community liaison to improve outreach efforts.

—Staff writer June Q. Wu can be reached at junewu@fas.harvard.edu.