December 11, 2012

Thickening the Thin Blue Line

Public outreach is central to the mission of UMass Amherst’s Police Department
Recreation Center staff develop their teamwork and leadership skills at the Adventure Ropes Challenge Course.

The 63 sworn officers of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Police Department have municipal police-academy training and full authority to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth. Even so, they know that they can serve best the campus community by befriending and joining forces with it.

“Outreach is the backbone of our community policing,” says Deputy Chief Patrick Archbald. “We offer several programs designed to foster community involvement, cooperation, and communication.”

These outreach efforts, coordinated by officers Mark Whelihan and Brian Kellogg, include talks and security surveys conducted in residence halls. Several others, however, involve sustained, active participation by members of the campus community.

The Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Program teaches women about rape awareness, prevention, risk-reduction, and avoidance, and helps participants master easy, effective tactics and techniques to protect against various types of assaults. The program is open free of charge to female students, faculty, and staff. Participants must commit to 14 hours of class time spread over four evening classes.

The Citizens Police Academy is a fun, interactive way to learn about the police department’s duties, responsibilities, and capabilities, and about police work in general. Each nine-class session begins with classroom training on such subjects as drug and alcohol abuse, criminal and constitutional law, motor vehicle law, the use of force, and crime-scene processing. Students also try out some of the tools used by police officers, learn how a traffic stop works, and view demonstrations by the department’s K-9, mounted, motorcycle, and TAC team units. The class is offered free of charge to UMass Amherst students, staff, faculty, and their families, as well as people from nearby communities.

The Adventure Ropes Challenge Course is a series of fun, exciting high- and low-rope exercises designed to test a group’s teamwork and develop individual self-confidence and leadership. Presented in partnership with the Amherst Police Department, it strengthens ties between the two organizations and builds bridges with the communities they serve.