MIT stands by Chief of Police John DiFava to lead MITPD
The MIT Campus Police Association (MCPA) announced June 29 that in late May, 31 of its 38 voting members voted “in favor” to a “no confidence” vote on MIT Police Chief John DiFava’s leadership. MIT wrote in a statement emailed to The Tech that it stands by DiFava to lead the MIT Police Department (MITPD).
The MCPA’s announcement, emailed to The Tech, cited “outdated policies and procedures, poor morale throughout the department, favoritism in personnel decision-making, and a culture that does not support the officers,” as well as the MIT Police Department’s lack of independent review for over two decades.
The MCPA sent a request to MIT’s Office of Employee and Labor Relations and Compliance for an independent police department review May 26. MIT responded May 29, and later explained that many of the MCPA’s concerns “were either addressed or could have been addressed through grievance processes or other existing Labor Relations and Employee Relations policies and procedures,” according to MIT’s statement.
A spokesperson for the MCPA wrote to The Tech that the MCPA has been “talking for years” about an independent review and “strongly” believes an outside independent review will “benefit not only the officers, but the leadership and school community.”
MIT disagreed, writing that it does “not share the perspective of the police union that their concerns should be addressed outside of the normal bargaining or Institute processes.” Additionally, MIT wrote that it has stated to the union that while the Institute takes “these concerns seriously,” MIT does “not see the need or benefit of an independent review of the concerns raised.”
MIT added that “MIT has rarely turned to a third-party investigator for issues like those currently being raised by MCPA, and the request to do so in this instance was presented before all internal avenues had been exhausted.”
All 38 uniformed members of the MITPD are voting members in the Association.
MCPA wrote that the Association’s vote is “not at all” in response to conversations between the department and the Black Students’ Union(BSU)/Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) regarding the Support Black Lives at MIT petition, which includes calls for multiple policing reforms.
MIT also wrote that the MCPA’s complaints are unrelated to police leadership, MIT’s Office of General Counsel, and HR’s recent consideration of a review of the policies and procedures for policing on campus.
BGSA co-presidents Chelsea Onyeador G and Ufuoma Ovienmhada G were “optimistic about future negotiations” regarding policing reforms. However, due to this announcement they are now unsure how negotiations will progress, especially as MCPA President Joseph West declined to meet with the BSU/BGSA, Onyeador wrote in an email to The Tech.
Onyeador wrote, “We would be disappointed if the recent no confidence vote for DiFava was in some way related to the reforms we are asking for in the Support Black Lives petition. It is our hope that any future investigation of MITPD is done so in accordance with the objectives stated in our petition.”