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For years, concerns have been raised about campus security-namely, that there isn't enough to provide sufficient protection for this University. Harvard Police Chief Paul E. Johnson has promised reforms since his appointment in December 1983, but for more than a decade his words were nothing but empty air. Again, our police chief may be talking the language of reform. This time, we hope he means it.
Johnson has proposed six initiatives that strive not only to protect the campus community, but to involve them in policing efforts. Each one of the six proposals should be praised for its effort to get students and faculty involved in campus security, and for giving Harvard's police officers and guards a friendlier presence on campus.
The first initiative will be to appoint police liaisons to the Houses, where they will participate in meetings with masters, House committee chairs and proctors. The liaisons will be selected from a voluntary group of sergeants and lieutenants. Johnson believes this program will offer a link for a "more direct [police] response to situations" on campus. A second initiative would also apply to Harvard security guards.
A third proposal calls for publishing information in house newsletters about campus crime incidents, which is currently only published in the police blotter. Other initiatives would allow students to staff the house security offices, lengthen the hours of guard coverage and implement officer foot patrols of selected areas.
We welcome all of these proposals as sensible means of instituting security reform. In the past, house residents have expressed concern that police officers and guards are too removed from the people they protect. A system of appointing liaisons would pave the way for smoother relationships between students and security officials, as well as ensuring that the latter have a clear idea of house residents' concerns.
The other proposals are also quite reasonable. While a crime log is published weekly in the Harvard Gazette, it is usually skipped over by the majority of the undergraduate population. Moreover, the information published in the Gazette is notoriously incomplete and out of date. House newsletters would be a much more efficient way of alerting students to campus crime-assuming the log were printed in a comprehensive manner.
Additionally, student staffing of house security offices will allow guards time to patrol house grounds and thus increase their visibility. Since security offices double as superintendent's offices in many houses, students will also be able to get vacuum cleaners and other supplies more easily. The need to hunt down a security guard out on night patrol will hopefully disappear.
Members of the Committee on College Life have vocally shown their support. The Committee, which consists of house masters as well as members of the faculty and administration, has praised Johnson's proposals. "I applaud the initiatives," said Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III. "Anything that strengthens the partnership between the police and other sectors of campus is a plus."
Yet despite Committee support, these initiatives will probably not be implemented until 1997. Additional funding for more officers will have to be approved by the administration before some of the more expensive initiatives-such as lengthening the hours of guard coverage or implementing officer foot patrols-can be created.
Nevertheless, there is no reason why some of the less expensive initiatives, such as appointing police liaisons or including a crime log in House newsletters, can not be implemented in the next several months. We urge Johnson to get to work on these proposals as soon as possible.
We also urge the administration to provide the funding necessary for some of Johnson's other, more costly proposals. Although the Administration may groan that its budget is tight, Johnson's initiatives may eventually prove themselves to be one of the most cost-effective measures this University has taken in a long time.
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