Police chief DiFava assumes responsibility for campus security

John DiFava

John DiFava, chief of the MIT Police since December 2001, has assumed additional responsibilities and is now director of security and campus police services, Executive Vice President John R. Curry announced recently.

DiFava's broader role involves coordinating security-related issues across the campus as well as directing the MIT Police.

In addition to the MIT Police, offices that have some responsibilities for the security of buildings and the safety of the MIT community include Parking and Transportation, the MIT Card Office, Facilities, Housing, Information Services and Technology, and the Environment, Health and Safety Office.

DiFava will coordinate these diverse security-related roles across the Institute. He also will continue to assess campus facilities for vulnerabilities and lead the development of corrective actions. In particular, he will provide leadership for planning and installing site-appropriate controlled-access systems for campus buildings and will coordinate emergency response activities among a number of units.

"John has been working effectively over several months with MIT academic and administrative departments to address their security concerns, so in a sense we're formalizing the role he is already playing on our campus," Curry said.

Difava responded to a series of questions from Tech Talk about his role.

Q. In the current national and international climate, more attention is devoted to security than ever before. In your new MIT assignment, what will be different than in recent years?

This will be a much more comprehensive, centrally coordinated approach with an emphasis on system interoperablility and integration.

Q. Is this plan modeled after any other security strategies?

This is totally new ground. The only other major university that I'm aware of which is taking this systematic approach is Columbia University, and they've just started. In fact, last month Columbia hired a retired deputy from the N.Y.P.D. to coordinate their effort.

Q. Does this mean you will have day to day contact with all those other departments that are part of your coordinating plan?

Yes, only through the joint efforts of all departments that have a role in security will the Institute benefit from a comprehensive campus-wide initiative. This will take cooperation, direction and leadership.

Q. What changes will students, faculty and staff notice as a result of your security plan?

Our immediate focus will be to work on a multiphase security plan for Building 18. When complete, I expect this to be the largest and most comprehensive security plan on the MIT campus up to this time.

Q. Are there other departments not listed above that can contribute to this effort?

All entities on campus can contribute to this effort. Assessing needs and vulnerabilities from an internal perspective will assist greatly in the prioritization of initiatives.

Q. Is there a special message you'd like to convey to the MIT community regarding security?

True security is not the sole responsibility of one person or even one department--it's a joint effort on the part of all members of the MIT Community. I'll look for help from many quarters. I realize that we will need a very adaptive approach to accommodate the diverse needs of our departments.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 11, 2004.

Topics: Administration, Campus services

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