By Naidelly Coelho
Meg Nowak Borrego, Dean of Students, announced Joseph Cecchi had been selected as the new chief of police in an email to the community Aug. 23.
Cecchi previously worked at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester for the past 15 years. Before starting at Framingham State, his previous position was captain and academy director at the Quinsigamond Community College Policing Academy.
He made his way up from a traffic officer at Quinsigamond to a full-time police academy director.
In his previous job, Cecchi undertook many equity and inclusion initiatives that he plans to implement at FSU as well. “Throughout my professional higher education career, equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging have become an integral part of my values, goals, and approaches. This has become my goal not only in the work environment but in my general approach to daily life,” he said.
Cecchi said he likes to be involved with the community and has promoted events such as No Shave November, Pink Patch, yearly food pantry donations, and Coffee with a Cop.
In 2016, Cecchi started a project where he dressed up as Santa Claus to distribute toys and food to those in need. He plans to bring this project to Framingham State.
“My plans are to collaborate with other groups on campus and collect these toys and get them to the families that need them,” Cecchi said.
He said when he started this project, they were helping about 80 families a week during wintertime.
He thinks the police department should collaborate with other departments across the campus to positively impact the community.
Cecchi also believes collaborating and sharing ideas with different people is what makes FSU unique.
“Especially with this being only my third week, I can really see where the concerns are by hearing the students’ voices and letting them be heard,” he said.
“I want everyone to be able to feel comfortable coming to us where there's a concern of safety or racist concerns. We want to handle that and correct that,” Cecchi said.
Nowak Borrego said the search committee reviewed all materials and identified candidates to conduct Zoom interviews, as well as open forums the community could attend.
There was one student on the search committee and some students and staff were also present for the on-campus interviews, she said.
President Nancy Niemi said she was part of one of the groups that interviewed both finalists.
She said the search chairs led staff through the process of vetting the applications, interviewing the candidates, reviewing their references, and selecting a candidate.
Nowak Borrego said when Cecchi was interviewed on July 28, “He answered the questions in a way that the search committee felt he would be an asset to our community in support of our anti-racist efforts. … Every member on our college campus enriches our diversity. We support inclusion and are dedicated to ensuring equity and access to opportunities.”
Niemi said her “experiences with Chief Cecchi to date show that he is very eager to connect with and listen to students.
“I think the Chief’s eagerness, along with this demonstrated commitment to equity in his previous positions, will prove him to be a supportive and eager partner with students on this and many other issues,” she said.
SGA President Evelyn Campbell said Cecchi has been already responsive to SGA’s concerns and has “immediately” taken action to look into them.
Campbell said Cecchi attended the last SGA meeting and was listening attentively and taking notes about all of the students’ concerns.
“He is really trying to foster connections with organizations around campus and we greatly appreciate that,” she said.
Niemi said she’s “eager to watch the development of a strong relationship between FSU students and our campus safety team, with Chief Cecchi at the helm.”
Nowak Borrego said she is “thrilled” to have Cecchi on the team and hopes students and staff take the time to get to know him and invite him to events.
Cecchi said he wants “to build trust and legitimacy, and I want us to be transparent with everything we do. The transparency is huge for the community.”