Boston City Councilors Josh Zakim and Tito Jackson joined the Boston Police Department in condemning the Northeastern Police Department's decision to arm its officers with semiautomatic weaponry in a letter addressed to Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun.
Northeastern's decision, coming in light of a recent series of shootings that have occurred across the United States, will allow NUPD officers to deploy semiautomatic weaponry in their vehicles during high-level threats, such as on-campus shootings.
"Assault rifles are the last thing we need in NUPD patrol cars," Zakim and Jackson state in their letter. "This is a step backwards for community policing and encourages mistrust and fear between NUPD and Northeastern students, as well as Mission Hill and Roxbury residents who often come in contact with NUPD."
Zakim and Jackson's letter comes amidst various concerns that have been raised regarding the new policy. Among those voices are Boston's Mayor Marty Walsh and the Boston Police Department.
"Commissioner Evans and BPD are at the forefront of progressive community policing in our country; for NUPD to ignore their input is misguided," Zakim and Jackson profess. "Boston has the best police department in the country, in large part because Commissioner Evans has led us away from militarized policing."
Currently, four other Boston-area universities---Boston University, Tufts, the University of Massachusetts Boston and MIT---allow officers to equip themselves with semiautomatic weaponry. The decision to join these ranks was made without consulting the Boston Police Department or campus and community members.
"We are particularly concerned that in addition to rejecting BPD's suggestions, Northeastern completely failed to involved the community and its elected representatives in this decision," Zakim and Jackson conclude. "Our constituents deserve to be heard on this topic and we call on Northeastern to conduct meaningful outreach within its own community and in Mission Hill and Roxbury. Absent such a substantive effort, we will call for Council Hearings on this matter imminently."