CAMBRIDGE, MA – According to a recent report from The College Fix, Harvard University student activists had convinced university officials to pull a scheduled course that aimed to study the efficacy of an innovative policing strategy that was adopted in Springfield, Massachusetts, roughly a decade earlier.
This effort was accomplished via a circulated petition that brought up student concerns over numerous aspects related to the professor and the course material – with copious amounts of clamoring about policing and racism.
— The College Fix (@CollegeFix) February 17, 2021
The course in question was dubbed as “Data Fusion in Complex Systems: A Case Study”, which was going to be taught by Professor Kevin “Kit” Parker – a bioengineering professor who during his military career served in Afghanistan.
Professor Parker was going to specifically dive into the efficacy of a policing strategy known as Counter-Criminal Continuum policing, or also known as C3, which has been being used in Springfield for about 10 years now.
The C3 policing strategy, in the simplest of terms, is like a larger-scale version of community policing – with officers working to build strong rapport with community leaders, landlords and business owners to help curtail crime.
With there now being about 10 years worth of data to examine on how well this policing method has worked, Professor Parker figured it would be an ideal time to hold a course to review whether this method of policing behooves the community.
So, on January 22nd, Professor Parker sent an email to graduate students of Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) advertising the course.
It didn’t take long for there to be some blowback over the advertised course.
On January 24th, student activist organizations such as Harvard Graduate Students Union and Harvard Alliance Against Campus Cops began to circulate a petition that demanded the course be withdrawn.
The demands listed within the petition requested that the course be pulled, and that there be greater attentiveness toward topics akin to studying negative impacts against minorities when it relates to policing.
If the standard is to "meet ethical obligations" as in 'do no harm' or 'makes students uncomfortable' then they'd better cancel all the courses from strategy to post-colonial theory to literature. https://t.co/TzGoPiJXk1
— Alex Joffe (@DrAlexJoffe) January 26, 2021
But one of the more notable aspects raised within the petition, outside of the predictable anti-police rhetoric, is the mentioning of, “conflicts of interest that may prohibit Professor Parker from being able to engage in this research in good faith and without a predetermined outcome that benefits him financially.”
Apparently, these student activist groups are alleging that Professor Parker has some sort of way to capitalize monetarily on teaching this class – outside of his obvious compensation as a professor of the university.
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When The College Fix asked Professor Parker about if he stands to gain any sort of money from this effort from either the Springfield Police or the trademark holder of C3, he responded with the following:
“We (my team and I) receive no funding from Springfield PD, Trinity Project, or any outside agency for this work. PhD level investigators are doing it for free and undergrads get enough [money] from discretionary accounts I have so they get an hourly wage.”
He also countered the claims arising from students who oppose the class about concerns of racism being present within the C3 model, saying:
“There is no targeting of black and brown communities with militarized tactics.”
The mentioning of militarized tactics is in reference to where the C3 model of policing came from, due to the concept being born from similar military counterinsurgency tactics.
Michael Cutone and Thomas Sarrouf, both Army combat veterans and Massachusetts state troopers, had brought the concept into fruition and introduced it to the Springfield area where it was adopted roughly a decade ago by the state police.
But the petition also expresses doubts over Professor Parker’s credentials to effectively conduct a course of this nature, as his field of expertise is specifically in cell biology and tissue engineering research.
Yet, this wouldn’t be the first time that Professor Parker had led this course.
Back in 2012, he’d offered the same course at Harvard and the story of the class wound up making national news at the time – with even “60 Minutes” hosting a segment on the policing tactic and class.
“You’re not going to arrest your way out of this problem”
— Ben Obese-Jecty (@BenObeseJecty) February 10, 2020
Not to mention, Springfield residents – which is roughly 90 miles away from the Harvard campus – happen to be a fan of the policing model.
Ben Quick, who is a Springfield-based business executive who participates in the C3 efforts, had the following to say about the local endeavor:
“C3 has transformed the community from a neighborhood where encounters between citizens and police were trepidatious, to one where everyone feels more comfortable.”
Neal Boyd, a local minister in the area who is also a proponent of the C3 model, also spoke well of the efforts being employed by police in the area under this model of community relations:
“There are some people who are never going to see the positive side of what C3 is doing. We have to continue to do good, and the good is overwhelming the bad.”
From what Professor Parker says of the whole debacle, he’s not going to be deterred by student-led activists that are opposed to the class and will continue to see the class be reintroduced sometime later in 2021:
“This project will continue, I will endeavor to teach this course this fall, and I am sorry for the pain this episode at Harvard has caused the brave and innovative efforts to recover the North End community of Springfield.”
“My dedication to this effort is emboldened. I encourage those that were signatories to the petition to accept that they might have been wrong and join our team to help inform the voice of this community as they seek economic development and continued growth and well being.”
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