24 Hours with HUPD

The men and women of the Harvard University Police Department see a different Harvard than most anyone else. Here's an inside look at what it takes to patrol the the world's most prestigious University, courtesy of the officers themselves.

The public face Harvard shows to the world is a serene one: elegant libraries, commanding spires and stately brick facades.

But the men and women of the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) see a different Harvard. The stories they tell and the people they encounter will never appear in admissions brochures.

Harvard has all the problems of the big city around it. It relies on about 60 men and women, from those fresh out of college to others near retirement, to protect it from outsiders and, sometimes, from members of its own community.

HUPD prides itself on its smooth professionalism: it is a fully-charged police force with sworn, armed officers patrolling all day, every day. Instead of the security guards found at many colleges, Harvard's police department rivals any city's in its training and powers.

On any given day, HUPD officers patrol the campus in marked cruisers and unmarked cars, on motorcycles or bicycles and on foot. The department is on duty 24 hours a day, every day.

Last Wednesday, Sept. 6, was an average day at HUPD. As students trickled back onto campus, The Crimson joined officers for 24 hours.

It's been a busy summer--everything from an assault in the Square to an armed robbery near Mather House.

But the first watch takes over at midnight, the scanners are silent.

First Watch

12:08 a.m.-- The midnight-to-8 a.m. shift is HUPD's smallest, but officers are vigilant all night.

The shift supervisor flips through yesterday's incident reports, which contain details about arrests, crimes and new suspects. He reads the reports with the occasional joke.

The day's tasks become clear. Three criminals are on the prowl around Harvard. Near the Radcliffe Quad, a bike thief escaped during a recent foot pursuit. Another man has been breaking into the vending machines in the Law School's tunnels--every machine has been hit once. And the science labs have been the target of several larcenies in the last few days. The suspect in the larcenies is a 5-foot 10-inch 35-year-old black male. Everywhere this man goes, things seem to disappear.

Today's task: Find these three, arrest them and get them off the streets.

12:13 a.m.--Officer Andrew T. Gilbert slides behind the wheel of Car 296, an almost new Ford Crown Victoria. He flips the lights on, bleeps the siren once and tests the headlights.

"You don't want to be in the middle of a call and find out one of these doesn't work," he says.

Recommended Articles