Kevin Maguire has announced that he is stepping down as executive director of public safety and chief of the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD), effective Dec. 1. Tufts has begun a national search in order to fill the role Maguire has served for the past eight years.
Maguire’s decision to step down is guided by a variety of reasons. According to an email to the Daily, Maguire is departing due to both the enormous sacrifices of the job as well as the ability to pursue other opportunities. He expressed appreciation for his time at Tufts and the people and experiences he has had at the university.
“The men and women of [Tufts’ department of public service] are dedicated and committed to providing for the public safety of the Tufts community,” Maguire said. “I see their professionalism, sacrifice and service to our community on a daily basis and am proud to serve with them.”
Maguire described the pride he felt in the set of accomplishments during his tenure at Tufts.
“I’m proud to say that my team and I Maguire said.with the full support of the university’s senior leaders — have been able to achieve an impressive array of landscape style accomplishments which resulted in a considerably enhanced safety and security profile for the university,”
Among them, Maguire emphasized the development of officer training for suicide prevention, providing enhanced protective equipment, creating the Tufts Threat Assessment Management office in all university campuses and modernizing the biker and pedestrian equipment on campus.
While Maguire said he felt the relationship between TUPD and the student population has been positive for the most part during his tenure, he acknowledged that at times differences of opinion have caused rifts.
“I personally have always enjoyed my interactions with students, even when we might not have seen eye to eye,” Maguire said. “I saw those moments as learning opportunities — both for students and for me.”
In an email to Tufts staff, Barbara Stein, vice president for operations, praised Maguire’s time at Tufts.
“Please join me in thanking Kevin for his dedication and commitment to Tufts University and for leading the Tufts University Public Safety Department with honor and distinction since 2011,” the email said.
According to Stein’s email, Maguire “empowered and enabled” leaders in multiple departments.
“[Maguire caused the departments] to strive for excellence in their areas of responsibility and to empower some of their staff to learn and grow into future public safety leaders and managers themselves,” she said.
For Cheonan Kougba, TUPD has been a mixed bag. While he has had little personal experience with Maguire’s department, the stories that he’s heard about TUPD had led him to develop a critical view of it.
“There have been multiple instances where students have insinuated that TUPD is not your friend,” Kougba, a sophomore, said. “[I’ve heard that] police were called more often for black events more so in particular and shut things down early.”
Kougba believes that there will always be tensions between students, particularly students of color, and the police forces that are part of most campuses. He hopes that in the future TUPD will receive training that allows officers to be sensitive to the effects of their presence on campus.
Molly Tunis, a member of Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), has been disturbed by what she views as a militarization of TUPD under Maguire’s leadership.
“Tufts police are already far too militarized, and Maguire’s decision to attend a military training trip in Israel in December 2017 was particularly disturbing to me,” she said. “Tufts police should not be training with any military, let alone one known for its human rights violations.”
A 2018 Daily investigation revealed that Maguire, along with other Boston-area police chiefs and federal officers, attended an Anti-Defamation League-funded counterterrorism seminar in Israel. These seminars have been criticized by activists for trying to sway the officers who attend to favor the Israeli government, as well as because some the trainings were conducted by Shin Bet, which has been accused of using torture tactics.
Tunis hopes the next police chief at Tufts will not only increase the transparency of TUPD but also alter the way the organization functions in relation to the community it protects.
“[TUPD] should move toward a model of community-based safety that puts community members, including Tufts students, faculty and staff and especially those most marginalized, at the forefront of deciding what safety looks like on this campus and in our communities,” Tunis said.