By Adam Harrison
For the first time in four years, the University Police Department is fully staffed. Nine officers have joined the FSU force since April, according to Chief of Police Joseph Cecchi.
“They’ve been at very low staffing levels, and we were finally able to get it up to capacity,” he said.
Cecchi contributed some of their recruiting success to the two full-time academies he ran at Quinsigamond Community College, where he worked as a captain prior to becoming Chief of Police at FSU.
The academies were focused on diversity, with both trainings attracting at least a 50% diverse trainee pool. He said it attests to his support for diversity both at Quinsigamond and at FSU.
“A lot of times, it’s really hard in Massachusetts to try to get an opportunity to be a police officer … but these really gave everyone a fair opportunity to get that training and secure that employment, and we were very successful,” he said.
Some officers directly came to FSU from these academies, including Community Resource Officer Andrew Frimpong. Cecchi said when officers are recruited from academies such as this, it saves the University the expense of sending them through six months of training.
With a full staff, the police can focus more of their resources on positive interactions through community outreach events and implementing supplementary training.
“The community events have been huge. That’s something we really wanted to work on. … Just being able to do those kinds of events to really have a one-on-one interaction with the students, staff, faculty, and the community,” he said.
Cecchi said their goal is to make the environment as comfortable as possible for students.
Students might not feel comfortable coming down to the University Police Station but sometimes when they’re meeting police through an outreach event, students will express some of their concerns at that time.
Deputy Chief Martin Laughlin said, “We just want to break down the barriers - try to get us closer together. … That’s the goal of every police department - especially here.”
Frimpong has been able to attend several events on campus, including the MLK Commemoration and Lecture and the McAuliffe Center reopening to become more familiar with the students and staff.
“I’ve been sharing my face and mingling with the different organizations and students, and I’m really appreciative of the welcome the students have been giving me,” he said.
“We’re really just trying to build trust, legitimacy, and transparency. We serve the students, and that’s our community, and we want to make sure that this is a safe and secure environment,” he said.
Frimpong is currently working with Residence Life to organize more interactions with students through events in the dorms.
He also wants students to know he is always down for a game of foosball. “Plus if anyone’s good at foosball - no one’s willing to challenge me in foosball,” he said.
Cecchi said there’s more opportunity for Corporal Shawn Delesky to bring out Ramsey the community resource dog because he isn’t preoccupied with answering calls.
Ramsey has been successfully progressing in his training, according to Cecchi, and has most recently completed his Canine Good Citizen test. He only has one more training before he is officially certified.
With the additional personnel, there is always staff on duty, and it provides time for officers to engage in further trainings. After Chapter 253 was passed into law in 2020, University Police officers are “required to be equally trained - the same as every other police officer. … So everyone is held to the exact same standard,” Cecchi said.
All dispatchers have been able to get 911 emergency communications training through the Municipal Police Institute.
He said the officers are getting sexual assault certifications and mental health training. “They’re also getting training on domestic violence, implicit bias, and response to active shooter and hostile events.”
Cecchi has also requested a grant from the state that would refund resources already put toward defibrillators and body armor.
The incident on Oct. 12 when a bullet casing was found in the West Hall Parking Lot is still under active investigation.
“Framingham Police Department sent us detectives to assist us. … We have an open detective position that we’re currently looking at filling so that we’re able to handle those cases,” Cecchi said.
Contact FSUpolice@framingham.edu to communicate low-level concerns, and text “FSUTIP” to 67283 to provide anonymous information to the police. “But if you’re having an emergency always - always call the police department (508-626-4911),” he said.