North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, on Friday, pro­vided a written response to the Boston City Council’s public hearing request on the tac­tical capa­bil­i­ties of the North­eastern Police Department.

The hearing, sched­uled for Monday evening, is the result of an order filed by Coun­cilors Josh Zakim and Tito Jackson that states that North­eastern “made this deci­sion uni­lat­er­ally, and without the col­lab­o­ra­tion or approval of BPD.”

The university’s written state­ment refutes the coun­cilors’ claims and says, in part, “The coun­cilors’ premise for calling a public hearing is nonex­is­tent, and we con­sider the hearing sched­uled for Feb­ruary 29 unnecessary.”

In its state­ment, the uni­ver­sity offers evi­dence that the hearing request is based upon claims that are both flawed and false. The uni­ver­sity also con­tends that the hearing unjustly sin­gles out North­eastern, despite numerous other Boston-​​based uni­ver­si­ties employing sim­ilar tac­tical capa­bil­i­ties, and that a public hearing threatens to dis­rupt the ongoing, pro­duc­tive con­ver­sa­tions among Boston’s law enforce­ment leaders, including NUPD, the Boston Police Depart­ment, and Mayor Marty Walsh.

The university’s most recent letter to the City Council fol­lows a written state­ment issued to the council in Jan­uary. Details about that letter were cov­ered in a Jan. 27 news@Northeastern article. Michael Davis, chief of the North­eastern Police Depart­ment and director of public safety, sat down in December with news@Northeastern for a com­pre­hen­sive dis­cus­sion on NUPD’s work.

The full text of the letter deliv­ered to the council on Friday appears below. View a PDF of the letter here.

Feb­ruary 25, 2016

Coun­cilor Andrea Camp­bell
1 City Hall Square, Suite 550
Boston, MA 02201–2043

Dear Coun­cilor Camp­bell,
This letter is in response to the Public Hearing Notice issued by the Boston City Council’s Com­mittee on Public Safety and Crim­inal Jus­tice regarding the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Police Department’s tac­tical weapons capability.

Coun­cilors Josh Zakim and Tito Jackson have called for this public hearing based on claims that North­eastern decided to increase the tac­tical capa­bil­i­ties of its Inci­dent Con­tain­ment Team “without the col­lab­o­ra­tion and approval of BPD” and made “no effort to con­sult or involve” the local com­mu­nity. These state­ments are not accurate.

In my pre­vious letter to the City Council, dated Jan­uary 26, 2016 (also attached) I out­lined North­eastern University’s ongoing com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the Boston Police Depart­ment around increasing the tac­tical capa­bility of NUPD offi­cers to pro­tect uni­ver­sity stu­dents and employees on our campus.

In my letter, and in sub­se­quent meet­ings with the coun­cilors, we have pro­vided a detailed time­line of al l com­mu­ni­ca­tion between NUPD and BPD dating back to October of last year. The coun­cilors’ premise for calling a public hearing is nonex­is­tent, and we con­sider the hearing sched­uled for Feb­ruary 29 unnecessary.

More­over, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity law enforce­ment lead­er­ship has had very pro­duc­tive con­ver­sa­tions with both the Mayor and lead­er­ship of BPD around ongoing col­lab­o­ra­tion, including joint training. The strong part­ner­ship between our two orga­ni­za­tions is built around the shared goal of keeping the com­mu­ni­ties within Boston safe. Together, we are focused on strength­ening the col­lec­tive capacity of local law enforce­ment to work together in the event of an active shooter inci­dent on Northeastern’s campus. North­eastern values the col­lec­tive com­pe­ten­cies of BPD and other area agen­cies, and is com­mitted to fos­tering coop­er­a­tion on crit­ical public safety matters.

Addi­tion­ally, the law enforce­ment per­sonnel of many Boston-​​area higher edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions have sim­ilar capa­bil­i­ties to pro­tect their com­mu­ni­ties in active shooter sit­u­a­tions. Yet, the pro­posed Feb­ruary 29 hearing focuses on only one insti­tu­tion: North­eastern. No other uni­ver­sity has been invited to par­tic­i­pate in the hearing, and none have been crit­i­cized for not par­tic­i­pating in a com­mu­nity process. In fact, there is no process “to con­sult or involve” the local com­mu­nity because a tac­tical weapons capa­bility is a nec­es­sarily dis­crete capa­bility that should involve cor­re­sponding police depart­ments and law enforce­ment agencies.

Despite there being no process to include com­mu­nity mem­bers in deci­sions involving a pri­vate institution’s inward-​​facing law enforce­ment capa­bil­i­ties, on Feb­ruary 17, law enforce­ment and com­mu­nity affairs lead­er­ship from North­eastern met with Coun­cilors Zakim and Jackson to dis­cuss the coun­cilors’ con­cerns. North­eastern leaders have also met with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Black Min­is­te­rial Alliance and Ten Point Coali­tion. In every meeting, North­eastern rep­re­sen­ta­tives explained the pur­pose of NUPD’s Inci­dent Con­tain­ment Team and how its tac­tical weapons would only be deployed in response to a ver­i­fied active shooter threat on our campus, and not in sur­rounding neighborhoods.

With these undis­puted facts in mind, we ask you to include this cor­re­spon­dence and the Jan­uary 26 letter into the record of the City Council, and we respect­fully decline the invi­ta­tion extended to mem­bers of the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity admin­is­tra­tion to appear at the Feb­ruary 29 hearing.

While Northeastern’s strong part­ner­ship with the Boston Police Depart­ment and other local agen­cies is inte­gral to the safety of our campus, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity police offi­cers are charged with the explicit respon­si­bility of pro­tecting the university’s 77-​​acre campus, and its stu­dents and employees. NUPD offi­cers are mem­bers of an accred­ited depart­ment that is led by Chief Michael Davis, a national expert on urban policing, who has more than 20 years of expe­ri­ence as a munic­ipal police officer and leader. Chief Davis is also a police-​​practicing expert who has con­sulted with the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice on a number of urban police matters.

The authority of the NUPD offi­cers resides under a state statute that enables them to serve as Spe­cial State Police Offi­cers of the Mass­a­chu­setts State Police. To ful­fill their respon­si­bil­i­ties, NUPD must equip and train its offi­cers to handle the variety of emer­gency sit­u­a­tions that might arise on a col­lege campus, including active shooter situations.

We will con­tinue our col­lab­o­ra­tions with BPD and other area law enforce­ment agen­cies, as well as with Mayor Walsh, around these and other impor­tant issues affecting our great city.

Respect­fully sub­mitted,
Ralph C. Martin, II
Senior Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Counsel