As the police department for the campus, the Department of Public Safety is committed to providing the highest quality police services possible. The relationship of trust and confidence between our staff and the citizens of the community is essential if we are to succeed in this goal.
The Department of Public Safety strives to develop and maintain positive relationships with all members of the Holy Cross community and endeavors to provide the highest quality of service possible. Our goal is to ensure that our officers and dispatchers are guided by principles so every individual they come in contact with will be treated equally and with dignity.
An internal affairs investigation is usually the last and least desirable step in addressing officer conduct. The road to outstanding performance and exemplary personal conduct, both on and off duty, starts with hiring and proceeds through a series of milestones with the expectation that an internal affairs investigation will never be needed. More commonly, our officers work hard, perform according to policies and training, and more importantly, bring fairness and integrity to the scene when responding to calls.
We are proud to report that Public Safety officers have been recognized by the state and by Holy Cross for their actions on duty in response to calls for help. The job of a police officer is arguably one of the most difficult jobs in our society. Even at Holy Cross, we respond to an array of emergencies that require calm in the face of chaotic and energized situations, quick decision-making in serious crimes in progress or medical emergencies, and courage when faced with dangerous circumstances.
Usually, by the time Public Safety is called upon by a student, faculty or staff member to respond to an emergency, the situation has reached a crisis point.
In situations involving conflict, the abilities of our officers to de-escalate individuals on scene have been noted in feedback from witnesses. De-escalation takes skill, emotional intelligence, learned tactics, and extraordinary focus. We excel in this area and value this resource brought to bear when our officers are called upon to manage heated conflict.
Examples of the recognition of our officers are:
- Award from the Statewide Advisory Committee for CPR/First Responders for officers’ life-saving efforts related to a cardiac arrest.
- Commendations for actions taken at their own peril to protect lives and extinguish an actual working fire in a residence hall room in the middle of the night.
- Recognition from the College for excellent emergency medical response rendered to a student in a dire medical emergency.
- Commendations for de-escalation of a random citizen who presented herself in psychological crisis to Public Safety in our lobby in the middle of the night. Officers were recognized for their application of skills and tactics learned through ICAT training and their ability to work with city EMS personnel to safely transport the citizen for an emergency psychological evaluation.
We encourage and invite you to share your positive experiences with our officers and dispatchers by completing a compliment form.
A citizen complaint, and its subsequent investigation, causes the police to examine the services that are provided to the Holy Cross community and to make improvements as needed.
The link to the complaint form is at the end of this section. Please read this section to understand our process for receiving and investigating complaints.
The process of complaint investigations and police accountability is dictated by Massachusetts law Chapter 253, An Act Relative to Justice, Equity and Accountability in Law Enforcement in the Commonwealth, also known as the Massachusetts Police Reform Law, signed by Governor Baker on Dec. 31, 2020.
Each complaint will be accepted courteously and professionally. All complaints will be properly documented and investigated in a timely fashion with appropriate follow-up.
Anonymous complaints, while accepted, will limit our ability to adequately resolve the issue without corroborating information.
If you wish to file a formal complaint, please click on the button below. A trained investigator will be assigned and will be in contact with you. If you would like to immediately speak with a police supervisor about the incident please call 508-793-2224 and ask for the on-duty supervisor.
Public Safety has a designated command staff officer who serves as the department's internal affairs investigator, who reports directly to the director of Public Safety/chief of police.
The primary responsibility of internal affairs is to respond to any allegation of misconduct against the department. The internal affairs officer is responsible for registering, recording, and controlling the investigation of complaints against Public Safety employees. Duties also include supervising and controlling the investigation of alleged misconduct within the department and maintaining the confidentiality of these investigations and corresponding records.
The internal affairs process helps make certain that the integrity of the department is maintained through a system where objectivity and fairness are assured by thorough impartial investigation and review.
The objectives of our internal affairs investigations are:
- Protection of the Holy Cross community;
- Fairness and objectivity to our employees;
- Community education concerning police actions;
- Correction of procedural and/or personnel problems and;
- Education, retraining, or corrective action when warranted.
The four possible dispositions of an internal affairs investigation are defined by the Massachusetts Police Reform Law and are:
- Sustained: Evidence sufficient to prove allegations.
- Not sustained: Insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove allegations.
- Exonerated: Incident occurred but was lawful.
- Unfounded: Allegation is false or not factual or the employee was not involved.
The Complaint and Investigation Process
As part of the Massachusetts Police Reform Law, Public Safety officers are certified by a state governing body called Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) and specifically by a division under POST called the Division of Police Standards. Once an allegation of officer misconduct is received by Public Safety, the Holy Cross chief of police has two business days to notify the Division of Police Standards of the received complaint and in that notice shall include, but be not limited to, the following:
- the name and commission certification identification number of the subject officer;
- the date and location of the incident;
- a description of circumstances of the conduct that is the subject of the complaint;
- whether the complaint alleges that the officer’s conduct:
- was biased on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, mental or physical disability, immigration status or socioeconomic or professional level;
- was unprofessional;
- involved excessive, prohibited or deadly force; or
- resulted in serious bodily injury or death; and
- a copy of the original complaint submitted directly to the agency; provided, however, that the commission may establish a minimum threshold and streamlined process for the reporting or handling of minor complaints that do not involve the use of force or allegations of biased behavior.
Public Safety then has one year to complete the internal affairs investigation. Once completed, the chief of police must notify the Division of Police Standards of the findings of the investigation and any discipline rendered if findings support discipline. POST may review the matter and elect to proceed with further investigation if they feel it is warranted.
You may submit a complaint about an officer in one of the following ways:
- Come to Public Safety in person and ask to speak to a police supervisor. We are located on the Lower Level of the Jo Recreation Center. We are open 24/7. They will provide you with a form to fill out and seal in an envelope.
Once we receive the complaint, the internal affairs officer will be in touch with you.
Complainants will be contacted at the conclusion of the investigation and will be advised as to the disposition of the matter.