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Outside law enforcement experts will review the internal climate of Harvard’s police department as well as its dealings with the University more broadly following accounts of racism and sexism within HUPD that surfaced last month, according to an internal department email.
HUPD Chief Francis D. “Bud” Riley announced the review earlier this month, citing a Crimson investigation that found repeated instances of racism and sexism in HUPD over three decades. In court documents and interviews, 21 current and former employees alleged that Riley created what they described as a hostile work environment.
In an email sent to HUPD employees Monday morning and obtained by The Crimson, Riley announced the appointments of national policing experts Ronald L. Davis and Brenda J. Bond-Fortier to lead the review alongside five HUPD employees and Harvard Human Resources representative Maria Mejia.
Riley laid out the scope and goal of the forthcoming investigation, which he will oversee alongside University Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp.
“The review’s scope will include both internal operations and support for our uniform and non-uniform ranks, as well as how our Department engages with the broader community, ensuring that we are in the strongest position possible to effectively, honestly and respectfully carry out the public safety mission we are charged with,” he wrote.
In seven bullet points, Riley charged the committee with responsibilities including revamping department procedures for handling internal complaints, promoting retention of minority officers, improving department morale, and soliciting feedback from University affiliates.
The committee will periodically update Riley and Lapp with its progress and will then share its findings and recommendations with the department by the end of the academic year, according to his email. After writing its report, the committee will help the department implement its recommendations.
The pair of outside experts who will lead the review bring federal experience with criminal justice to Cambridge.
Davis previously served as a top official in the United States Department of Justice, where he oversaw efforts to implement community-oriented policing. In 2014, then-President Barack Obama appointed Davis to direct a task force on modern policing practices.
Bond-Fortier, an associate professor of public service at Suffolk University, also has ties to the Justice Department, where she provides expertise to the Smart Policing Initiative. She has conducted research in criminal justice policy at both the National Police Foundation and the Harvard Kennedy School.
Riley wrote in the email that he hopes the review will bring substantive change to the department’s climate and its relationship with the University at large.
“I have great pride in this Department. Each day our commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our community helps ensure that Harvard is a place where we all can do our best work,” he wrote. “However, in light of the recent Crimson articles, I remain concerned about our internal department climate, as well as the perception and interactions we have with members of our community.”
Lapp declined to comment beyond Riley’s email.
The review comes as the department faces fresh scrutiny following a trespassing arrest at the Smith Campus Center on Thursday. Several witnesses alleged the HUPD officer involved used excessive force during the arrest, which was partially captured on video.
On Monday evening, HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano declined to comment on whether the department will formally review the arrest, citing longstanding HUPD policy not to comment on ongoing criminal cases.
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