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MIT Police Ready for Slightly Delayed Move to Building W89

By Curt Fischer

The MIT Police will begin moving into their new home in Building W89 on Feb. 15, two weeks later than initially planned. The new space, which underwent a $2.4 million renovation exclusively for the MIT Police, will provide relief from overcrowding at the current location in the du Pont Athletic Gymnasium (Building W31) as well as “room to grow for the future,” said John DiFava, chief of the MIT Police.

Despite the remote location of W89, which is west of Simmons Hall, “we will still have a presence on this side of campus,” DiFava said. A branch office in the Student Center will open April 1. Until then, a branch office will remain in operation at du Pont. Current patrol routes will be unaffected by the move, DiFava said.

The new building significantly expands the capabilities of the police department. MIT Police Captain David Carlson, charged by DiFava with coordinating the force’s relocation, said that one conference room will be equipped as a centralized emergency operations center with extensive phone and internet connections. The center will allow personnel from the MIT Police, Environmental Health and Safety, and Facilities to work together to coordinate their response to emergencies like the underground fire in Central Square last June, Carlson said. The fire endangered MIT’s connection to the power grid.

Space at W89 has also been allocated for a booking center, according to Carlson. Currently, persons arrested by the police must be processed, or booked, at the Cambridge Police Department. The booking center in the new location will not be operational immediately after the move, but the capability will be added in the following months, Carlson said.

Kurt Samuelson, senior project manager of construction in the Department of Facilities, said he expects Cambridge officials to issue a certificate of occupancy, officially signifying compliance with all zoning and building regulations, by the end of week.

DiFava emphasized that police service will continue uninterrupted during the move itself, but acknowledged that the logistics of relocation remain an “ongoing issue.”

Emergency contact numbers will not change, and the detailed execution of the move is being carefully planned, Carlson said. Operations at the MIT Police’s patrol station in the basement of the Stata Center will be unaffected by the move, he said.

No definite plans yet exist for the space in du Pont to be vacated by the police, said John Dunbar, assistant to the provost for space planning. MIT may consider extensive remodeling of the space because of its age and prominent location on Massachusetts Avenue, he said. Final authority over the space rests with the provost, president, and associate provost, but no timeline for decision has yet been established.