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Separating Medicine From Policing

Separating Medicine From Policing

Police Chief Anne Glavin has stated that when the Campus Police provide medical service or transportation to the medical department in cases of underage drinking, the officers are obliged to consider investigation as part of their law enforcement duties [MIT Tech Talk, Jan 14, 1998]. While this fact may be an unavoidable result of the CP's dual role as police and emergency medical provider, it seems equally unavoidable that the threat of disciplinary action will in some situations cost precious seconds precisely when they are needed the most.

In the real world, the separation between emergency medicine and police response is more distinct: each is primarily served by a different profession, bound by different oaths of confidentiality and public safety. For the health of its student body, MIT should move to a similar system by establishing an emergency medical response unit separate from the Campus Police. Medical professionals of this type would be a visible, accessible, and effective addition to MIT's health education and delivery system. The Campus Police, in turn, could concentrate their efforts on patrolling the campus, while continuing to serve a backup medical role.

Quick thinking saves lives; worry and deliberation costs them. Bold steps such as this one are necessary if MIT is to expect its students to do the right thing, without hesitation.

Michael Halle G

Lecturer, Program in Media Arts and Sciences