PPD officers to be phased out of Brown patrols

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

All Providence Police Department officers working on paid University details will be phased out, according to Vice President for Administration Walter Hunter.

Hunter announced the change at Tuesday’s sparsely attended Brown University Community Council meeting in Leung Gallery in Faunce House.

Two PPD officers on a paid University detail were involved in a Sept. 10 incident in which a graduate student has said he was assaulted during an altercation with PPD and Department of Public Safety officers at the intersection of Thayer and Waterman streets.

In a campus-wide e-mail sent following the incident, President Ruth Simmons and Interim Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Russell Carey ’91 MA’06 wrote that, as part of an investigation into the incident, Chief of Police Mark Porter would assess the use of PPD officers on paid University details and “make a recommendation to the administration regarding whether or not it should continue.”

However, a campus-wide e-mail sent Monday outlining Porter’s findings did not address the use of paid details and stated that PPD officers’ conduct during the incident “is solely subject to the authority of” the PPD. The investigation concluded that DPS officers were justified in their actions and did not cause injury to the student involved.

Hunter said the policy change is partly the result of discussions following the arming of DPS officers earlier this year that addressed the possible elimination of the regular use of PPD officers on paid details on a regular basis.

One PPD officer will be eliminated from each patrol this semester, according to Hunter, and the University plans to remove PPD officers from all patrols by next semester, as soon as replacement officers are hired.

“In terms of people whom we pay, the preferred approach is to use Department of Public Safety officers because we have more control over (the department itself),” Hunter said.

Porter has also planned an eight-hour supplementary training program for DPS officers that should take place between late November and early December, Hunter said. The program will emphasize scenario-based training, conflict resolution and sensitivity.

The department can always benefit from additional training, Hunter said.

“The chief believes we could all learn more about how those initial stops could be conducted in a way where the person who is stopped has a strong sense that he is being treated with dignity and respect,” Hunter said.

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