For the past several months members of the Amherst Police Department, with numerous town, community and University of Massachusetts stakeholders, have been planning for potential disturbance related activity that has historically occurred on the Saturday prior to the University of Massachusetts spring break. Prevention of the event has been paramount, while establishing best practices in the preparation to safely manage an incident, should one occur. Amherst Police and their stakeholders have been aligning resources and activities to ensure the safety of the Amherst community.
Amherst Police, with the assistance of the Town of Amherst Information Technology Department, have installed video monitoring equipment throughout the high liability areas of the Amherst community. These video systems will feed directly into the Amherst Police Department Emergency Operations Center allowing for community leaders to view real time activity that is occurring throughout town. Personnel and tactical decisions can be based upon this information. Video can be used to further all criminal investigations, assist to identify combatants, and can be used as evidence to assist in prosecution of offenders, if necessary. Additionally, video recordings will ensure transparency for all involved participants.
Recognizing that social media has played a role in the development and promotion of these large scale disturbances, the Amherst Police Department has assigned personnel to view and document social media postings. The Department has consulted with the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office to determine if such postings violate Massachusetts General Law. Prevention of a disturbance will ensure the safety of the community and first responders.
By implementing the Western Massachusetts Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Agreement, there will be 14 law enforcement agencies in the Town of Amherst on March 7 to ensure the safety of the community, safety of first responders and prevent the destruction of property. On March 7 law enforcement personnel from these 14 agencies will be assigned with Amherst Officers in areas and neighborhoods throughout the community to conduct outreach, communicate our concern for the safety of the community and to prevent a disturbance related incident from occurring.
The Amherst Police Department has met with community stakeholders in our down-town businesses including retail partners, bars, liquor store owners and property managers/owners. Meetings have been held with select neighborhood groups, Student Government Leadership, Fraternity and Sorority Leadership and off-campus student neighborhoods. It is important that these stakeholders understand their role and responsibilities in preventing and preparing for disturbance related activity. We are encouraged by the support received from these community partners/stakeholders to ensure the safety of the community and first responders.