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UMass police union: Mount Ida security plan violates agreement

  • Holbrook Hall at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s new Mount Ida campus.  FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Saturday, February 08, 2020

AMHERST — The union representing patrol officers at the University of Massachusetts has filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging that the university’s privatization of jobs has created inadequate security conditions at the Mount Ida campus in Newton and violated a collective bargaining agreement.

The New England Police Benevolent Association Local 190 announced last week that it filed the charge, which Justin W. Green, president of the local chapter, said was put forward in spring or winter of 2019. In the charge, the union states that the university has replaced the Mount Ida campus’s former academy-trained and armed Special State Police officers with unarmed private security employees who have not received police academy training.

UMass must hire officers who have attended the same municipal police academy as all other city and town police officers in Massachusetts, the union says in its complaint. This current force also does not provide sufficient security for the Mount Ida population, according to Green, and the practice violates the union’s collective bargaining agreement with UMass, as well as other established policies and procedures.

“The staff, the students, the visitors and the faculty should be offered the same protections as if they were sitting on the Amherst campus,” Green said, “and that’s currently not the case.”

UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said in a statement to the Gazette that the university “has had a public safety plan in place since summer 2018, informed by the recommendations of a security consultant, to meet the needs of the students, faculty and staff at the Mount Ida Campus in Newton. This includes the 24/7 presence of a private security firm as well as close collaboration with the City of Newton Police.”

Blaguszewski added that “the process to address the police union’s objections is ongoing through the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations.”

Sixty-six students currently live on the Mount Ida campus, and an additional 43 students commute, according to Blaguszewski.

The union previously objected to the university’s Mount Ida security plan in 2018, but since raising concerns and filing the charge, “nothing has changed,” according to Green.

A year earlier, the union called for UMass officials to increase police staffing, citing a 20-year low in staffing amid 30,000 calls per year and other increasing demands. Since 2010, the university’s patrol officer force has decreased from 43 to 33, according to Green, with seven of these current officers working non-patrol shifts.

Union members “fully comprehend” that the smaller student population at the Mount Ida campus may not necessitate a full police force, Green said, but he does not think that the private police force provides adequate protection.

The union is also attempting to obtain U.S. Department of Education Clery crime statistics from 2018, Green said, after the university’s annual security report included no data from 2018.

According to Green, incidents that meet Clery reporting requirements did occur during this time period. UMass has said that the Mount Ida security plan complies with Clery regulations.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.