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Harvard University Police Department Chief Francis D. “Bud” Riley “will be moving forward in the near future” with an internal review of his department in response to a recent report of racism, sexism, and alleged favoritism, according to an email he sent to HUPD employees Tuesday night.
The email, which was obtained by The Crimson, comes on the heels of a Crimson investigation that found repeated instances of racism and sexism in the department over the span of nearly three decades. In lawsuits, discrimination complaints, and interviews, 21 current and former HUPD employees alleged the department’s leadership favors certain officers and retaliates against those who come forth with concerns regarding the department’s climate.
These employees accused Riley of being the source of a toxic culture within the department.
In his email, Riley addressed The Crimson’s investigation and wrote that he will set in motion his own assessment of the department.
“While the article relies on and reports on multiple incidents and lawsuits dating back many years, the overarching allegations of racism, sexism, and favoritism are serious,” the chief wrote. “Like every organization, within the HUPD, there are steps we can take to improve.”
“I will be moving forward in the near future with efforts to evaluate our structure, processes and internal climate,” he added. “This includes reviewing and reminding all of us that we have clear and effective processes through which to both raise and address internal conflicts, misconduct or incidents in an appropriate and professional manner.”
Riley invited members of the department to come forth with concerns and suggestions.
“I urge all of you to share your thoughts and ideas for how we can, working together, strengthen and maintain the high standards of professionalism and the delivery of high-quality service the students, faculty, staff and visitors to this University expect and deserve,” he wrote to employees.
At the same time, the chief cited efforts he has implemented to improve the department since arriving at Harvard 24 years ago. These initiatives included strengthening relationships between HUPD officers and University affiliates, recruiting a more diverse police force, and providing diversity training to officers.
“In the last five years, HUPD staff have received approximately 3,400 hours of diversity, inclusion, and belonging related training,” Riley wrote.
Riley also wrote that the department has put in place standard procedures for promotions and discipline.
The chief said in his email that Harvard police officers play a vital role on campus and that University affiliates must trust the department to keep them safe.
“I do want to emphasize the pride I have in this Department,” Riley wrote. “The critical role we have in Harvard University’s mission is not small, and the impact of our work is felt and relied upon by every member of this community.”
“It should go without saying, if any member of our community can’t have confidence in our commitment to their safety and wellbeing, we are failing,” he added.
HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.
—Staff writer Ema R. Schumer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @emaschumer.
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