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MIT Campus Police Review Panel issues report

Panel cites need for changes in wake of the arrest of former MIT Police officer Joseph D'Amelio
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On August 31, 2009, the MIT Campus Police Review Panel delivered a report to MIT President Susan Hockfield and Executive Vice President Theresa M. Stone. (Read the full report here.) The report answers two questions posed by President Hockfield after the arrest of former MIT Police officer Joseph D'Amelio on March 14, 2009. D'Amelio was arrested in a "sting" operation in East Boston and charged with two counts of unlawful trafficking in a controlled substance, one count of conspiracy to violate drug laws and one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

The first question concerned Campus Police policies and procedures, and whether they "promote performance at the highest level of professionalism." The panel found that while MIT Police do perform at a high level of professionalism, the Police Department needs policies and procedures that will allow the Chief of Campus Police to ensure a high standard of conduct for off-campus behavior. 

The second question concerned Mr. D'Amelio, and whether MIT can state with confidence that it has no knowledge of him engaging in illegal or improper acts on the MIT campus or involving MIT students or other members of the MIT community. Although limited by the fact that it did not have the investigative powers available in a legal proceeding, the panel found that MIT can in fact say with confidence that it has no reason to believe or suspect that Mr. D'Amelio engaged in illegal drug trafficking on campus or with MIT students and community members.

In a September 15, 2009, letter to Professor Robert Silbey, the Review Panel's chair, President Hockfield notes that as a further precaution, she has asked MIT's General Counsel R. Gregory Morgan to "monitor the events of Mr. D'Amelio's criminal prosecution for any other information that would link his illegal activity to MIT or others in the MIT community." (Read the letter here.) She also notes that she accepts the report's findings and endorses its recommendations.

In addition to recommending specific ways by which the Campus Police can help ensure higher standards for off-campus behavior of MIT Police officers, the Panel recommends "that MIT consider whether Campus Police has an optimal staffing structure." It notes that MIT is unusual in having a Police force that consists wholly of sworn officers, with the exception of three administrative personnel. In both the Cambridge Police Department and the Boston University Police Department, civilian public-safety personnel perform security functions that do not require specialized training, such as help for a student locked out of a dormitory. The Panel believes that the staffing question merits further consideration.

Chief of Campus Police John DiFava agrees with the Panel's findings. "All of the recommendations put forth by the panel are reasonable, and they are in keeping with modern police practices," he said. "We will make every effort to implement these recommendations going forward."

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