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MIT campus police union announces vote of no confidence in police chief and calls for independent review

Pedestrians walked past the Maclaurin Building at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge.
Pedestrians walked past the Maclaurin Building at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge.Scott Eisen/Bloomberg News

The union representing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology police announced a vote of no confidence in the police chief and is calling for an independent review of the department.

On Monday the MIT Campus Police Association released a statement citing “an overall failure of leadership” from Chief John DiFava and said that 31 of the union’s 38 members voted in favor of the no-confidence resolution.

In the statement, the union blamed DiFava for “several failures, including outdated policies and procedures, poor morale throughout the department, favoritism in personnel decision-making, and a culture that does not support the officers.”

Messages left for DiFava by e-mail and telephone were not immediately returned.

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Kimberly Allen, a spokeswoman for MIT, released a statement in support of DiFava.

“MIT stands by Chief of Police John DiFava to lead the department,” the statement said. “We do not share the perspective of the police union that their concerns should be addressed outside of the normal bargaining or Institute processes, and have stated to the union that while we take these concerns seriously, we do not see the need or benefit of an independent review of the concerns raised. The concerns should be addressed through internal processes as agreed to in the contract with the union. MIT, with the chief’s support, is reviewing its policies and procedures around campus safety and policing in light of the national dialogue.”

Alan McDonald, legal counsel for the union, said an independent review of the department is “long overdue.”

“The men and women of the MIT Campus Police Association took an oath, an oath to protect those that study, work or step onto the MIT campus,” McDonald said in the statement. “The officers are proud to be part of the MIT community and take pride in their jobs. However, as reflected by their vote, they feel in large numbers that the Chief’s leadership style and outdated policies are wearing them down. The Association believes that an independent review is long overdue and would go a long way in helping the department address outstanding issues and ultimately come together as a stronger police department. The Association remains puzzled over why the Institute is so reluctant to take this step, one that will only benefit MIT and its important stakeholders.”

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According to the union, it has been two decades since an independent review has been conducted of MIT’s police department.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.