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HUPD Sees Surge in Trespassing Arrests Compared to Recent Years

The Harvard University Police Department is on track to far exceed its average number of trespassing-related arrests on campus.
The Harvard University Police Department is on track to far exceed its average number of trespassing-related arrests on campus. By Frank S. Zhou
By Sally E. Edwards and Asher J. Montgomery, Crimson Staff Writers

The Harvard University Police Department is on track to far exceed the average yearly number of trespassing-related arrests on campus over the last three years.

According to HUPD’s dashboard, the department averages just over 10 trespassing-related arrests per year — eight in 2021, 15 in 2022, and nine in 2023. Four months into 2024, the department has already made eight arrests on trespassing charges.

In previous years, the department has averaged just over three trespassing arrests between January and April. In March 2024 alone, the department made 5 arrests for trespassing on University property.

HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano wrote in a statement to The Crimson that the majority of trespassing-related incidents “result from a call from the community”.

“If an officer or a community member believes that a crime had occurred, or an individual is engaging in, or about to engage in criminal behavior, our officers have a duty to respond and determine what transpired,” he wrote. “If someone has in fact committed a crime, they are subject to arrest or criminal charges.”

The dashboard— a reform established following calls on campus to abolish the force – reports data on HUPD, including arrests and criminal complaints, since the start of 2021. According to HUPD website, the force established the resource to “improve communication, information-sharing, and transparency”

At least two of the individuals who were arrested for trespassing are unhoused, according to HUPD reports. One unhoused woman was arrested three times in the span of two weeks. This comes as cities across Massachusetts are struggling to accommodate an influx of unhoused individuals, resulting in action from the state government.

HUPD officers have issued 23 trespassing warnings since January, according to police logs. The number of trespass warnings issued so far is similar to previous years, which average 43 incident reports for calls for service related to trespassing over the course of the year.

The Smith Campus Center and Science Center are the most commonly reported locations for trespassing in 2024. Other arrest locations include Emerson and Fairfax Hall, as well as the Science and Engineering Complex. Multiple individuals were reported as having “piggybacked” into buildings requiring swipe access.

—Staff writer Sally E. Edwards can be reached at sally.edwards@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @sallyedwards04 or on Threads @sally_edwards06.

—Staff writer Asher J. Montgomery can be reached at asher.montgomery@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @asherjmont or on Threads @asher_montgomery.

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