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Crime Data

Recently published data reveal that property crime at Harvard has been increasing.

The total volume of reported theft on the Cambridge campus rose from 508 incidents in 1998 to 630 incidents in 2002.  Total enrollment grew by +5.5%; other factors remaining constant, the risk of becoming a victim of a property crime at Harvard rose by +17.5% in 4 years.

 risk = C (number of incidents reported) / (number of students enrolled).

A cautionary note: “The statistics represent alleged criminal offenses reported to campus security authorities or local police agencies.  Therefore, the data collected do not necessarily reflect prosecutions or convictions for crime.”

     Harvard Univ., 2001–2002 Financial Report to the Board of Overseers of Harvard College 12 (2002).
     Harvard Univ. Police Dep’t, Playing It Safe: A Guide for Keeping Safe at Harvard (2001–2002 ed. Aug. 2001; 2003–2004 ed. Aug. 2003) (“Cambridge Campus Crime Statistics”).
     Office of Postsecondary Educ., U.S. Dept. of Educ., Campus Crime and Security at Postsecondary Education Institutions, (Oct. 2003).
     Office of Postsecondary Educ., OPE Campus Security Statistics, (Oct. 2003).

The most radical alteration in Harvard’s security policy over the last few years has been the displacement of directly employed Harvard University Security Guards by temp workers, the employees of a non-University-controlled security service vendor.  The decision to introduce this policy is often attributed to Chief Francis Riley:

Francis “Bud” Riley, a 24-year veteran of the Massachusetts State Police, took office as Harvard’s director of police and security in January 1996.  In the three years since, Riley has instituted a number of community policing programs at Harvard. John Lenger, assistant director of the Harvard News Office, spoke with Riley to get a progress report on how community policing is working at Harvard.

Q: What else did you do to involve the community?

RILEY: I wanted to do team policing, and have the students and faculty and staff know the officers, and the students and the faculty and staff would have a sense of connection to the police because they would know each other.

Q: How does this affect the security guards’ role in this model?

RILEY: The community policing model is based on a team structure to supplement and work with the police officers.  Security guards, whether they are in-house guards or contract guards, are part of that team along with students, senior tutors, building managers and others in the community.  One of the benefits of this model is that, in a team effort, security and support to the police officers is not dependent on any one element.

Q: But there have been a lot of stories in the student press about the reduction in the number of guards and the effect on campus safety.  Aren’t these legitimate concerns?

RILEY: As I said, this is a team effort that does not rely on one particular unit.

Source: “Community Policing: Questions and Answers” (1999), Community Policing at Harvard University: Changing Strategies for Changing Times, Harvard Univ. News Office, Dec. 16, 2002, (Specials), (2003).

Although Chief Riley was given the authority to implement the policy, the decision to introduce it was undoubtedly made by upper management before he arrived.

The individual bearing the greatest responsibility for the security of the Harvard community is its vice president for Police and Security.  Robert Iuliano ’83, a former labor-law specialist who predated Chief Riley by two years, is now serving in this capacity.  By all accounts an honest and competent attorney, the new General Counsel has made a serious mistake in failing to reverse his predecessor’s misguided policies.

Upper management has sacrificed the security of the Harvard community in a futile campaign to break the university’s own independent security workers’ union.

As management was reducing the number of union security guards on campus from 62 in 1998 to 18 in 2002, the rate of property crime rose by more than 17 percent.

Without a complement of experienced, committed security guards providing support for its patrol officers, how effectively can the university protect its campus?  The data are sobering.

Site Editor: Howard Reid
Last updated 11/13/2003.  Published by the Harvard University Security, Parking and Museum Guards Union.