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The History of the Fitchburg State University Police

Fitchburg State University Police badge

The Fitchburg State University Police Department began on July 1, 1948, when the State Legislature authorized a single Watchman position for the campus. The function of this individual, however, was quite different from today's Campus Police Officer. This individual's primary function was the patrolling of buildings for fire security, the closing and locking of windows and doors at night, the control of night lights, and calling City Police if a crime was discovered. On July 1, 1963, a second such position was authorized, followed by a third on September 1, 1966. These Watchmen made assigned rounds, carrying a time clock while they checked each station.

The Campus Police Department as we see it today began on September 9, 1966, when the State Legislature granted three temporary Campus Police positions which were later made permanent on June 29, 1969. Since there were no training facilities available, it was necessary to establish a policy that only people with prior police training and experience could be hired. Consequently, the first Campus Police Officer hired was a former State Police Officer desiring to remain in one location rather than be transferred throughout the State. Shortly thereafter, two other experienced Officers were added to the staff and the Campus Police operations were underway.

The first headquarters consisted of an "in" box on the desk of the Assistant to the President's desk, who oversaw Campus Police. Uniforms and insignia were obtained during this time, as well as an office space, a booth created by industrial Arts students as a class project. It was placed at the entrance to Authority Drive on North Street.

Shortly thereafter, the department was moved to a temporary building, again built by the Industrial Arts students. The building was moved to the corner of North and Pearl Streets to make way for the Conlon Industrial Arts building construction and was intended as a temporary office for the Mathematics Department. Campus Police used this building until July 1978, when they moved to the Dupont Building. This building is currently the field house at Elliot Field.

On September 1, 1970, two additional Campus Police Officer positions were authorized, boosting the department to five officers. They continued to be under the control of the Assistant to the President with an Officer-In-Charge for each shift until July 1, 1973, when a Chief Security Officer position was added. On February 27, 1977, the position of Lieutenant was added.

The three Watchmen continued to perform their duties but remained independent of the Campus Police Department except to notify them of problems found during their rounds. With the retirement of two of the Watchmen and the resignation of the third, the decision was made to employ a commercial Watchmen service. Supervision of these Watchmen was eventually given to the Chief Security Officer. This system continued until the latter part of 1975, when the service was discontinued due to budgetary financial concerns. When the move was made to discontinue the Watchmen service, four additional Campus Police Officers were added to the department, bringing the total to seven.

In 1987, the position of Captain was created to join the Chief, Lieutenant, ten Police Officers, and one person who functioned as clerical, Parking Clerk, and Dispatcher. The name of the department was changed to Public Safety to keep pace with current trends throughout the country, reflecting an enlarged and more encompassing role of the department on campus. In 1992, a full time Dispatcher was added to the department and in 1997 two more Officers' positions were obtained through a Federal Grant from the Justice Department. In 1998, two Sergeant Positions were created from the retired Lieutenant's position.

In January 1999, having outgrown the location in the Dupont Building and to follow the lead of many other college campuses of locating Campus Police in Resident halls, Campus Police/Public Safety moved to Russell Towers. With a Chief, Captain, Sergeant, thirteen Officers, a full time Dispatcher, and a clerical person, we were located near the center of campus for close to ten years.

On August 19th 2008, Fitchburg State broke ground on a new station at the corner of Clinton and Congress streets. In March of 2009, Campus Police moved into their new station, a 3,500-square-foot station overlooking North Street. The new station is more functional than the last and serves as a link between the school and city residents. The police station is part of the college's plan to link the campus to Main Street. The station incorporates technology for which there was not enough space at Russell Towers, including monitors for 50 surveillance cameras placed around campus. There are two holding rooms just off of the booking room for prisoners to wait for bail to be set or transfer to another station while awaiting arraignment.

On July 28, 2010, Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation establishing a State University system in Massachusetts and the institution's current name, Fitchburg State University, was enacted. With this change we adopted the new name of "Fitchburg State University Campus Police" with “University Police” as the shorter more informal title.

On April 14th, 2014 the University police got it first female Chief of Police with the retirement of the previous chief, who served the university for 32 years. Chief Leary left in June of 2016 to serve as the Chief of Police at a Private College. On October 3, 2016 The University named its current chief, Chief Michael Cloutier. Chief Cloutier served as the department Deputy Chief for two years prior to his promotion. He brought to the department a greater emphasis on community engagement and collaboration with other university departments as well as public safety agencies throughout the city and the Commonwealth. Under his command, the department expanded to three sergeants and fourteen patrol officers. The department also has three lieutenants, a dispatch supervisor overseeing three dispatchers and an Administrative Assistant to the Chief.

The Officers are fully trained at the Special State Police Academy and patrol the campus via cruiser and bicycle patrol. The University Police Department offers numerous services. Among them are informational programs for students, coordination of parking and shuttle bus service, a student Emergency Medical Response Team monitoring twenty Emergency Call Boxes throughout campus, progressive Rape Aggressive Defense (RAD) classes, and Police Coverage to the University Community 24 hours a day.

We've come a long way with the help, support, and encouragement of many who truly recognize the need for a professional University Police Department. We invite you to look at the rest of our webpages and learn more on how we serve the community of Fitchburg State.

Fitchburg State Police badges from various years