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Glavin: understaffing not unusual


By Brian Rosenberg

It is "not unusual" for MIT police patrols to be understaffed, according to Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin. When this happens, part of the MIT campus may be patrolled less than normal, she said.

According to Glavin, the MIT campus is divided into six zones patrolled on foot and two patrolled by car. Each zone is patrolled by a single officer, she said.

The eight officers required to patrol MIT are not always available, Glavin said. "The staffing [of patrols] does not take into account vacations or sick leave," she said. "It is not unusual for [a patrol zone] to be unfilled, or for two routes to be assigned to one officer, or for a cruiser to spend more time than usual in [an unfilled] area."

"The decision of which route to understaff is made by the crime prevention unit, which compiles our crime statistics," Glavin said. "They make an a recommendation based on recent crime trends on campus," she explained.

Under fully staffed conditions, each patrol car travels around either the east or the west half of the campus, with Massachusetts Avenue serving as the dividing line.

The Campus Police are currently setting up a system of crime prevention coordinators in the academic departments, Glavin said. The main purpose of the coordinators is to get more information about crime prevention out to the community.

"We've been planning something like this for some time, and the new federal legislation just got us off the ground," Glavin said, referring to a recently passed bill requiring universities to distribute crime information.

"If the program works well," Glavin said, "we would certainly think about extending it to the dormitories."

MIT police similar to

other area universities

MIT's police force is comparable in size to police forces at other campuses in the area. Glavin said there are 56 sworn officers on the force. In comparison, the Boston University police have 50 officers, while Harvard University has 65, according to the chiefs of those departments.

Northeastern University, whose police force is part of the Office of Public Safety, has approximately 50 sworn officers, but also hires an outside contractor to "patrol the exterior of some residence halls," according to James Ferrier, Northeastern's associate director for public safety.

Some universities in the area, including Boston University, have minimum manning policies which set a lower limit to the number of active officers at any time.

"We have a limit of four officers during the week and five on the weekend," said Steven M. Devlin, chief of police at BU. In the event of a shortfall, the BU police will call on officers from other shifts, he said.

Harvard University has a minimum staff level as well, though Chief Paul Johnson refused to give exact numbers. "If we fall below the minimum, we call up other officers on an overtime basis," he said.

Devlin explained that BU patrols differ from those at MIT. "Foot patrols are done only in response to special needs," he said. "There are usually four or five cars at [the main campus]. Generally, at least one car has two officers, while the others have one.

"Also, we don't have patrol zones," Devlin added. "Officers use their own initiative while on patrol."

Many other universities in the area organize their police patrols in much the same way as MIT. Both Harvard and Northeastern also have geographically defined routes that their officers patrol.

Northeastern, like MIT, has no minimum manning policy. Ferrier explained that "there are guidelines for shift supervisors to follow, and it is up to their discretion" to decide whether a shift is understaffed. "We generally have at least five officers on patrol at any time, both in cars and on foot," he added.

In addition to its own officers, Northeastern University also hires a private security firm under contract, Ferrier said. "The contractors do foot patrols around some residence halls. They add the equivalent of about 55 more employees," he said.

Harvard's patrols are done almost exclusively in cars, though Johnson, Harvard's chief, said they had "directed patrols," in which officers leave their car and walk around a specific area.

Recent crime stats

show no overall trend

MIT's crime rate for the first six months of 1990 is down overall from the first half of 1989, Glavin reported. Other area universities report both declines and increases in their crime rates.

Fourteen serious crimes took place on campus between Jan. 1 and June 30, 1990. The same number of crimes took place during the first six months of 1989, Glavin said. Serious crimes are defined as assault, rape, rob

bery, homicide and other crimes against the person.

Three hundred property crimes took place in the first half of this year, including the theft of 78 wallets. The number of property crimes for January through June 1989 was not available.

Both car and bicycle thefts dropped from last year. Car thefts fell from 25 to 17, bicycle thefts from 73 to 54.

Northeastern has also seen crimes on campus fall, while Boston University's on-campus crime has increased approximately 10 percent. Johnson said crime at Harvard has been "about the same in general" as last year.

BU Police Chief Devlin said the BU crime rate "tracks well" with the national average, and that the increase was "not unusual at this time."

The increase in crime at BU

is due largely to an increase in burglaries, a memo released by Devlin shows.