Amherst Police were called to the Hampshire College campus on October 19 by Hampshire’s Department of Campus Safety and Wellbeing (CSW) to respond to “concerning behavior” of an individual on the Hampshire campus. That person was subsequently identified as a person of interest in an off-campus assault. APD officers conducted a search of campus for the individual and later apprehended them in Hadley. During the course of their search the officers detained a student for questioning and placed them in forceable restraints prior to questioning. That student was not involved in any dangerous behavior and was entirely compliant with the police. In response to that treatment, Hampshire President Ed Wingenbach spoke with both the Amherst Town Manager and the Chief of Police to “express our concerns and objections about the decisions that were made in this situation.” And Dean of Students Zauyah Waite sent a letter to the Hampshire community criticizing APD’s actions on campus and suggesting that students addressing a campus safety issue call CSW first before turning to the APD. That letter follows. For a story on the recent reimagining and reorganization of campus safety at Hampshire College, look here.
Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,
Last week, Amherst Police responded to a Campus Safety and Wellbeing (CSW) call reporting the concerning behavior of an individual on the Hampshire College campus. Upon arriving to campus, the police identified the individual as a person of interest in an assault off-campus; the police conducted a search for the person using a K9 dog. While Amherst Police are not required to coordinate with the College, they did keep CSW updated. Later in the evening, Amherst Police informed CSW that the individual was apprehended in Hadley.
During this search, the Amherst Police detained one of our students. The student was not engaged in dangerous behavior and was entirely compliant with the directives of officers. Despite posing no threat to the officers, they placed the student in forcible restraints before questioning them. Hampshire College objects to this treatment, and it should not have happened. President Wingenbach spoke with both the Amherst Town Manager and the Chief of Police to express our concerns and objections about the decisions that were made in this situation.
We are deeply distressed that Amherst Police treated a Hampshire College student in this way. Unfortunately, when law enforcement responds to a report on our campus, their actions are not under our control. After the incident with the police, the student called CSW to obtain information and CSW did not engage with the care and concern we expect. This is something under our control. I am deeply sorry for the inappropriate response by CSW and have initiated an internal review of our protocols.
Amherst Police is a community resource and when utilized by our campus will follow its own protocols and procedures. If you find yourself in a difficult but not life-threatening situation, please call Campus Safety and Wellbeing before using 911 or contacting local police. If you have questions or would like to discuss this matter further, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by at the Dean of Students Office, 2nd Floor, Merrill Student Life Center.
Zauyah Waite, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students