UMass working to prevent another unruly “Blarney Blowout”

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – After a chaotic “Blarney Blowout,” UMass Amherst has requested the help of the former Boston Police Commissioner to review the university’s preparedness for large scale events.

According to Ed Blaguszewski, a spokesman for UMass, former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis will review the university and the town’s handling of the “Blarney Blowout” and other large, crowd-related disturbances.

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy decide to request Davis’s help after extensive consultation with UMass President Robert Caret and Board of Trustees Chair Henry Thomas.

“Commissioner Davis is an outstanding choice for this assignment,” Subbaswamy said. “He is regarded as one of the country’s top law enforcement experts and he will draw upon his longtime success in community policing to help us prevent a recurrence of last week’s disturbing events. This initiative has the support of our community partners in Amherst town government, a cooperative approach vital to solving this difficult problem.”

Blaguszewski said the  review will focus on campus and community preparation leading up to the event as well as the conduct of first responders, university officials and town leaders during and immediately following the disturbance. The aim of the review will be to develop strategies and tactics to avert the sort of upheaval that occurred over the past weekend.

Davis said, “We will look at everything to recommend best practices that can be adopted to ensure public safety in way that does not result in civil unrest. I am confident that both the town and the university community will benefit from this review.”

Davis led the Boston Police Department through the marathon bombing investigation and successful manhunt in April 2013. He has 36 years of law enforcement experience, including his tenure as Boston police commissioner from 2006-13.

Subbaswamy also announced a number of other initiatives to evaluate campus life and deter unruly student behavior. They include:

  • Working with leaders in student government to develop a task force of students, faculty and staff to develop policies and practices to discourage unruly behavior and change the culture of campus.
  • Consulting experts in the psychology of crowd behavior to develop improved crowd management strategies.
  • Examine expanding the UMatter at UMass bystander intervention program to also discourage bad behavior by others at large social gatherings.
  • Consider broadening the campus social norms campaign, largely focused on binge drinking, to address perceptions of other troublesome behavior.

The chancellor noted that the process for disciplining students involved in unruly Blarney Blowout behavior is under way.

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