I preface this letter by making it clear that I am not a cop-hater. I do not attend protests outside police stations. I do not walk around looking to record police doing their jobs. Overall, my few dealings with the Northeastern University Police Department (NUPD) and the Boston Police Department (BPD) alike have been positive.
While reading the crime log of Sept. 5 to Sept. 11, I became incredibly concerned with how NUPD is conducting itself. Out of the 50 weekly crime log entries, 11 were NUPD stopping students and confiscating alcohol outside the two “on-campus” liquor stores. NUPD knows what they are doing; it was the first weekend, and freshmen wanted to get their hands on liquor. What concerns me is that 22 percent of NUPD’s weekly dealings revolved around confiscating Bud Light.
So often when real crime presents itself to NUPD, they seem to opt out – calling in BPD or the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Police. Seeing how BPD’s main headquarters are adjacent to International Village, I am confused as to why BPD seem to never respond to crimes involving students. My confusion quickly subsides when I look at Massachusetts State Law versus the Northeastern Handbook. Since 2008, marijuana has been decriminalized in the state, possessing under an ounce is a civil offense with a maximum fine of $100. Further, many Boston students and residents alike report BPD turning a blind eye to personal marijuana use.
On the other hand, the Northeastern University handbook states that possession or consumption of any amount of marijuana is not allowed – with the first occurrence resulting in a $200 fine, deferred suspension from the university and mandatory attendance of a drug education program. For the record, nobody has ever told me that NUPD has turned a blind eye to marijuana use – quite the opposite. Every week, the Huntington News crime log has the same indistinguishable entry of a Resident Assistant (RA) smelling marijuana, NUPD being called and responding and the students being summoned to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR). I have called 911 requesting police assistance a few times in my life – when there was an intruder in my apartment and when I witnessed an armed robbery – but I get the feeling that if I called 911 because I smelled marijuana or saw young adults walking down the street with a sealed 18-pack of Bud Light, the operator would not be so happy with me, nor would the police.
NUPD’s website states that “NUPD is a full service and accredited police agency.” So why do they seem to police differently than every other police agency, including the one tasked with protecting all of Beantown, whose headquarters are a whopping four-tenths of a mile away from 716 Columbus Ave.
It’s simple. BPD and every other police department in the U.S. have a duty of protecting the community and enforcing the law. Their responsibilities are dictated from the chief of police, and moreover the Constitution.
NUPD has a duty of enforcing the student handbook and code of conduct. Their responsibilities are dictated from the aforementioned documents and OSCCR.
- – Andrew Proctor is a third-year business and supply chain management student.
Photo by Robert Smith