Boston College Police Department, on behalf of all Boston College students I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the amazing effort put forth by the entire BCPD in light of the weekend’s unbelievable turn of events. I know we, being the student body and BCPD, aren’t always on the best of terms. I know you probably despise us on most weekend nights. Rightfully so, I might add. I’m surprised you can even muster a smile towards us the other five days of the week, between the drunken confrontations in the Mods and the littering in Late Night alone.
So, BCPD, while you usually go above and beyond by even acknowledging our presence with a wave or smile, this weekend you truly outdid yourselves. Thank you for coming in to work on Friday when the entire city was on lockdown. Thank you for ensuring the safety of the BC community while the rest of the city anxiously awaited the end of the manhunt. Most importantly, thank you for doing your job.
The events of the past weekend made me realize how often I, and most students here at BC, take the BCPD for granted. With the death of MIT officer Sean Collier fresh on our minds, it is important to remember that our campus police force exists first and foremost to protect the student body. Sometimes they need to protect us from ourselves but, as the past weekend has shown us, sometimes they need to intervene in the face of real, external danger.
Officer Sean Collier died while protecting the student population of MIT. He was doing his job, making sure the students remained safe from the suspects at large. He is a true hero and a model citizen who put the safety of thousands of students before his own. Officer Collier, and all other police officers, deserves to be recognized for the bravery they displayed this past week.
But they also deserve to be respected on a day-to-day level and not only with this tragedy fresh on our minds. A threat to students’ safety is not always as extreme as a terrorist bomber. The BCPD intervenes whenever students are putting themselves in dangerous situations, whether we care to acknowledge the legitimacy of their intervention or not. I was at a house party on South Street Saturday night that was broken up by the BPD and BCPD. Were they justified in doing this? OF COURSE they were.
Huge numbers of people squished into a third floor apartment was not exactly a safe situation to have gotten myself into. At one point I actually thought the floor of the apartment was going to cave through. So when the police showed up to break up the party, was I complaining? Not really. It had been fun, but it had gotten out of control and the police recognized that.
We can’t expect the BCPD to do their jobs when there is a bomb threat but turn their heads when students are endangering themselves on the weekends. Contrary to popular belief on campus, the BCPD is not out to get us. They are reasonable. They know we’re in college and like to have fun. But they also know that sometimes we get out of control and need to be put in check.
A perfect example of the BCPD's lenience came on Friday night in the Mods. You’ve all seen the pictures on Facebook; it was a borderline mosh pit. There were crowd surfers and rousing choruses of the national anthem. It was mayhem, but it was a celebration of the resilience of Boston and the triumph of the city’s law enforcement.
The BCPD watched from a distance while students waved American flags out of their windows and sang “For Boston" at the top of their lungs. At approximately 1:45 a.m. they began kindly dispersing the crowd with flashlights. Students complied, some shaking the hands of the passing officers or offering them high fives. I even saw a few girls giving officers hugs. It’s the type of unity and respect between the BCPD and student body that isn’t often seen on campus.
While Friday night was beautiful, one of the more poignant moments of this weekend for myself came on Saturday afternoon. I was sitting with a group of friends on a blanket outside of Saint Thomas Moore Hall. A BCPD car parked in the driveway and a female cop, holding a brown paper bag, started walking towards us. Immediately our guilty consciences kicked in and we scrambled to compose ourselves in a “nothing to see here” type fashion. She introduced herself as Officer Katrina Thompson and asked if she could sit with us. It was only then that I noticed she was holding a Chipotle bag.
Officer Thompson sat down on our blanket with us and began to eat her dinner. While she ate she asked us how our weekend was going, what we had done during the lockdown, and what our plans were for study abroad. Understandably the conversation revolved around the bombings and successful capture of the suspects, but Officer Thompson kept it lighthearted. She even made a boat joke. (“His escape plan didn’t work very well. Even in Watertown you’re not getting anywhere in a boat on land.”)
Things got heavier when Officer Thompson told us that she had joined the BCPD as recently as July 2012. She had transferred from the MIT campus police force, where she knew Officer Sean Collier and had worked with him for years. She talked about how hard the loss was for everyone in Boston, and how the BCPD was especially cut up by the death of one of their own in the line of duty.
Before she left our blanket party, Officer Thompson offered a parting remark that stuck with me: “Don’t be afraid to talk to us. We’re all struggling with this as much as you are. We’re here if you need anything.” Her farewell almost brought me to tears. I have been used to thinking of the BCPD as a machine, as a unit. The thought that any of them would be interested in talking to students about the tragedy had never even entered my mind. It was an eye-opening experience that changed my perspective on the BCPD and my relationship with them as a student.
To Officer Thompson and the rest of the BCPD I would like to say thank you. Thank you for protecting our school, not only this weekend, but daily. You are greatly appreciated by all of us here at Boston College. Feel free to plop down on my blanket for a chat any time.