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Amherst College Considers Doing Away With Campus Police

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A month after student leaders called to eliminate the campus police department, Amherst College is considering whether it should remove armed police officers from the campus.

The Massachusetts college is hiring a consulting firm to study campus policing and address concerns among the school community.

 “We’re one of only two [New England Small College Athletic Conference] colleges that has armed police on our campus. We are currently undergoing some serious study to see what makes sense for the community as a whole [and] how to keep people safe while also defining safety more broadly than it often gets defined,” Amherst President Carolyn Martin said.

Martin’s concerns stem from last month’s campus demonstration in which hundreds of Amherst students participated in a Black Lives Matter walkout following the death of a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, at the hands of a Minnesota police officer.

Amid rising tensions over the nature of campus policing, the demonstration once again highlighted the often fatal consequences of police brutality. 

More Schools Follow

Campuses started reviewing policing protocols soon after student groups voiced concerns about police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last year. 

The University of Minnesota’s announcement that it was cutting ties with the Minneapolis Police Department snowballed into a nationwide demand led by student leaders that schools sever all ties with police departments.

Student groups at universities such as Northwestern, Georgetown, and Columbia signed open letters to administrators asking them to eliminate campus police.

At Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, the Black and Latinx Student Caucus community demanded the school “no longer contract with the New York Police Department for large events,” create a “ racial awareness and inclusion curriculum across all academic departments,” and increase the number of Black faculty members at the university.

“Racism and police brutality are prominent public health issues, and together we can take important steps towards health equity,” the letter concluded.

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