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University, city leaders renew police pact

mbruun | Tue Oct 25, 2022

The Fitchburg State University Police Department and City of Fitchburg Police Department renewed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday, Oct. 20, furthering the interdepartmental collaboration that has benefited public safety on- and off-campus.

The memorandum was signed by University President Richard S. Lapidus, Fitchburg Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale, Fitchburg Police Chief Ernest Martineau, and University Police Chief Michael Cloutier.

“The relationship between the university and the city is perhaps the strongest it has ever been,” President Lapidus said. “At this time where departments everywhere face shortages, it’s great to have backup.”

“The effective working relationship between our city and Fitchburg State has taken on an even greater importance when we are challenged with maintaining public safety,” Mayor DiNatale said. 

The agreement’s stated purpose is to establish, promote, and maintain a continued, harmonious working relationship and cooperative effort between both agencies. The document spells out each department’s roles and responsibilities concerning the prevention and response to incidents of on- and off-campus sexual misconduct, as well as a standard procedure for handling incidents and reports of sexual assaults and issuing timely warnings and emergency notifications.

Federal laws provide specific requirements relative to these notification processes as outlined by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (known as the Clery Act) and Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972. Massachusetts law also requires that colleges and universities establish a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement agencies to establish the respective roles and responsibilities of each party related to the prevention of, and response to, on-campus and off-campus sexual misconduct.

The chiefs said the departmental relationships between the university and the city are strong.

“The relationship has never been better,” Chief Martineau said. “We communicate well and have the same goals.”

Chief Cloutier agreed, noting department leaders and officers are effective collaborators. “Everyone is working together,” he said. 

Details of the agreement will facilitate opportunities for communication between the campus and city departments, and establish the respective roles and responsibilities of both agencies regarding the prevention of and response to sexual misconduct; to share information, per applicable federal and state confidentiality laws, regarding sexual misconduct incidents involving students or other campus community members of Fitchburg State University; and to identify opportunities for sharing best practices and training resources.