Beginning in July 2020, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges will operate separate campus police departments. The change was announced to the Mount Holyoke community in an email statement by Shannon Gurek, Mount Holyoke Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer.
BY NADIA BABAR ’19
In the wake of concerns from the student body and a number of controversies surrounding his social media presence, newly hired Campus Police Chief Daniel Hect — Chief for both Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges — has been placed on administrative leave.
In an email to the Mount Holyoke community on the evening of April 10, President Sonya Stephens wrote that “Over the past few weeks, members of our community have expressed concerns about the ability of Chief Daniel Hect to develop the level of trust required to engage in community policing.” The email also said that Deputy Chief Ray LaBarre has since been appointed Acting Chief of Campus Police.
Hect, who was announced as the colleges’ new Chief of Police on Feb. 11, has received criticism from the Mount Holyoke and Smith student bodies for demonstrating support for the Trump administration on Twitter through liking a number of tweets that exhibited support for a border wall and the National Rifle Association (NRA). In an email from Hect to the Mount Holyoke community on April 3, Hect wrote, “I am committed to dedicating myself and the entire campus police force to being a positive influence on campus safety, fully integrated into the community.” The email also listed several steps Hect would be taking moving forward.
“We are working closely with Smith College on this issue, and I will continue to keep our campus community informed,” wrote Stephens in her community-wide email.