Important Changes to Campus Policing

June 10, 2019

Dear Campus Community:

I am writing to you today to announce an important change in the Mount Holyoke College/Smith College Campus Police department. As of July 1, 2020, the two colleges will operate separate campus police departments.   

This decision follows a series of recent conversations on each campus and between our respective leadership teams. While our institutions have a deep respect for our joint history as women’s colleges, as educational institutions within the Connecticut River Valley, and as committed members of the Five College Consortium, we each recognize an independent need to develop approaches to campus policing that are suited to our unique communities.

Over the coming weeks, and during the next academic year, the College will begin to prepare for this change, and there will be opportunities for you to participate in envisioning what campus policing should look like for the Mount Holyoke community.  During the next school year, there will be a series of listening sessions and focus groups with students, faculty, and staff to ensure that your opinions and our community values play an integral role in the design and evolution of campus safety at the College. We will provide more information about these sessions once the new school year gets under way.

As we work together toward this vision, there will be no immediate changes at Mount Holyoke in terms of police presence on campus and the size of the force, or in dispatch services. Members of the Mount Holyoke community can still contact Campus Police by dialing 2304 from any campus phone or 413-538-2304 from a cell phone or off campus. In the coming year, Ray Labarre will continue in his role as interim chief of police. Additional updates on the chief of police can be found on this FAQ. Both colleges will continue to work in close concert during and after the separation to ensure successful implementation of our campus policing programs.  

Since 2009, Mount Holyoke has been a member of a shared police force with partner institutions in the Five Colleges- Hampshire and Smith Colleges. Hampshire began to manage campus safety independently at the end of 2018 and Mount Holyoke and Smith will return to independent police departments in 2020.  We are deeply grateful to the joint Campus Police force for their years of commitment to this common effort.

Sincerely,

Shannon Gurek
Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer

Mount Holyoke Policing FAQ

Q: How can Campus Police be reached during the transition year?
A: As is currently the case, members of the Mount Holyoke College community will contact Campus Police by dialing 2304 from any campus phone or 413-538-2304 from a cell phone or off campus.

Q: How long has the Campus Police Collaborative been in place?
A: The collaborative has been in place since 2009. Prior to this, the campuses shared a police chief but not a combined force.

Q: Is this change a response to the recent situation with Chief Hect?
A: No. In recent years, we have increasingly recognized the need to develop approaches to campus policing that are tailored to the specific needs of our campus communities. Last month Daniel Hect's employment as Chief of Campus Police for Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges ended by mutual and amicable agreement.

Q: What does the dissolution of the campus police collaborative mean for the union and unionized employees?
A: Since 2009, campus policing has been handled on a collaborative basis across Mount Holyoke’s and Smith’s campuses. The Union and our campus police officers have been important partners in keeping our campuses safe. In the coming weeks and months, both colleges will be working closely with the Union’s leadership in order to discuss the impact that transitioning back to two separate campus police departments will have on current employees.