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Amherst town-gown goes to Boston

Pictured left to right:  Jon Thompson, Hannah Dudley, Eric Beal, Jennifer Gundersen, Bill Menard, John Meltz, Bill Laramee, Matthew Polimou

In March, I attended a conference sponsored by the Boston Town Gown Association with representatives from the UMass Panhellenic and Interfraternal Councils, Amherst inspection services and the Amherst police.  Formed in the 2008, the BTGA is a coalition of higher education administrators, students, city officials, police, rental agents and neighbors that seeks to promote safe, respectful and healthy communities for students living in off-campus housing in the City of Boston. 

Keynote speaker Boston Police Commissioner William Evans spoke of the evolution of the city’s police from a time of almost exclusively enforcement, as when Evans was a rookie officer, to a strong commitment to community policing, a philosophy that Evans continues to champion as Commissioner.  Evans believes that “[n]othing is more effective to prevent crime and victimization than police officers forging authentic relationships with the residents.” 

The Amherst contingent also attended presentations on fire safety and rental lease education for college students and reconnected with colleagues from the region.  Probably my favorite part of the trip was the ride home in the minivan, where the town police and zoning inspector, UMass administrator and students took turns choosing songs on the radio to sing along with together -  a fitting end to a great day of town-gown cooperation and relationship building.