University News

An Update on the Review of UMPD Actions

In an email to the campus community, Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life, provided an update on a review of UMass Police Department (UMPD) actions. That email is as follows:

To the UMass Community:

Last November, following the arrest of a UMass Amherst student adjacent to an on-campus construction site, several witnesses contacted the chancellor’s office expressing concern for the treatment of the student by police. Subsequently, four formal complaints were filed against the UMass Police Department (UMPD) officers involved in the arrest. UMPD, by policy, commits to investigating “reports or accusations made against members of the department, or the department in general.”

In this case, because of the number of complaints and the high level of public concern, the university retained Margolis Healy and Associates to conduct a comprehensive external review of UMPD’s actions. This review, which has been completed, is a confidential document pertaining to personnel matters.

As outlined in the executive summary, the investigation found that:

  • The officers did not conduct themselves in a manner inconsistent with Massachusetts state law, department policy, procedure, practice, and directive.
  • No evidence supported an allegation that the officers’ actions were motivated by a bias or prejudice.
  • No evidence supported an allegation of excessive or improper use of force.

Importantly, UMPD is committed to identifying and eliminating bias in policing. For this reason, along with our university’s commitment to an equitable, inclusive campus environment, we requested Margolis Healy and Associates go beyond the individual findings of this case to offer opportunities for improvement based on their review.

Margolis Healy presented several recommendations to align UMPD’s work with industry-wide best practices. Some of the recommendations are already part of the department’s existing training and procedures.

In summary, these recommendations are:

  • Review UMPD’s existing Use of Discretion Policy
  • Complete and continue to offer de-escalation training throughout officers’ careers. Margolis Healy’s investigation was written midway through a recent training, and since its release, the majority of UMPD officers have completed the de-escalation training. UMPD’s ongoing commitment to de-escalation training, along with crisis intervention, implicit bias awareness, and more is outlined in the department’s 2021 Police Reform Initiatives.
  • Review pedestrian detour plans with UMass Environmental Health and Safety and UMass Facilities. Pedestrian safety is a top priority for the university and is the subject of regular review and improvement through the Pedestrian Safety Committee.
  • Additional recommendations, including modifications to UMPD’s mobile vehicle recording policy, the adoption of Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE) training and the addition of body worn video cameras.

All of these recommendations will be reviewed and discussed with members of the Community/Police Advisory Board (CPAB). CPAB is a group of undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff charged with making recommendations to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs & Campus Life and the Assistant Vice Chancellor/Chief of Police on improving campus safety, police-community communications, changes in police policies and the citizens’ complaint processes.

Understandably, there has been interest in the status of the student’s case. Student Affairs and Campus Life staff have provided and continue to provide care and support for this student as we would for any member of our community. Out of respect for the student’s privacy and the independence of the judicial process, we will not provide any further updates on this front.

I want to thank those members of our community who shared their concerns and participated in this investigation, recognizing that we share the goal of creating an inclusive, welcoming, and just campus environment.


Brandi Hephner LaBanc
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life