Northeastern University to Equip Police with Semiautomatic Rifles

The move has been met with opposition from Commissioner Bill Evans and the Boston Police Department.

Photo by Alex Lau

Photo by Alex Lau

Update: Thursday, 1:37 p.m.

In a joint letter to Northeastern president Joseph Aoun, Boston City Councilors Tito Jackson and Josh Zakim have condemned the school’s decision to arm its campus police with semiautomatic rifles, which they call “the last thing we need in NUPD patrol cars.”

“This is a step backwards for community policing and encourages mistrust and fear bctwccn N UPD and Northeastern students, as well as Mission Hill and Roxbury residents who often came in contact with NUPD,” Jackson and Zakim wrote. “Commissioner Evans and BPD are at thc forefront of progrcssivc communitv policing in our country—for NUPD to ignore their input is misguided. Boston has the best police depallment in thc country in large part because Commissioner Evans has led us away from militarized policing. NUPD has chosen to ignore the and to deploy tactical weapons in our communities.”

Jackson and Zakim said they would call for City Council hearings on the matter “imminently.”

“We are particularly concerned that in addition to rejecting BPDs suggestion, Northeastern completely failed to involve the community and its elected representatives in this decision,” Jackson and Zakim wrote. “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.”


The Northeastern University Police Department will begin equipping its officers with semiautomatic rifles this month in response to the rash of mass shootings across the country in recent weeks.

Though Northeastern campus police have had these weapons for years, they had not developed a formal policy for deploying them until now. “Watch CNN for five minutes. There are things that are happening around the country that cause us to pay attention,” Chief Michael A. Davis told the Globe.

Northeastern police reportedly developed the policy without consulting the Boston Police Department. Commissioner Bill Evans only learned of their plans when he met with Northeastern police to discuss rumors he had heard, and expressed his disapproval.

“I’m not sure I see the need to arm inner-city college campuses with these long guns when their officers already have firearms,” Boston police spokesman Lieutenant Michael McCarthy told the Globe. “As a matter of getting resources to the school, that can be done in a matter of minutes.”

Northeastern joins Boston University, whose campus police force has equipped its officers with semiautomatic rifles for the last five years, and MIT, where a similar policy was adopted in 2012.