Community-Oriented Problem-Solving

Community-Oriented Problem-Solving (COPS) Philosophy

To fulfill its mission of maintaining a safe and secure campus, the Department has adopted a community-oriented problem-solving (COPS) philosophy. The core components of the Department's COPS philosophy are:

  • Prevention
  • Partnerships
  • Problem Solving

Officers are committed to preventing crime and disorder and focus their efforts on eliminating the underlying causes of those problems. To do this officers actively engage in partnerships with the community to address and solve problems. Partnerships are the foundation of effective problem solving and crime prevention. Through these partnerships and collaborative problem solving, officers deal with problems, prevent crime, and help maintain a community free of disorder.

To help build, maintain, and strengthen these partnerships within the University community, the Department is divided into the six geographic-based teams below. Officers are then further assigned to specific buildings, departments, and schools within their patrol areas. Officers are expected to engage in both formal and informal community outreach at locations and with students, faculty, staff, and visitors on a daily basis.

  • Allston
  • Longwood
  • North Yard
  • Radcliffe
  • River
  • Yard

The HUPD operates substations where community members can register their laptops or bicycles, file a police report, or talk to an officer about any safety issues that they have. Each substation posts its own hours of operation. Location of substations:

  • 114 Western Avenue
  • 90 Smith Street (Longwood Campus)
  • 29 Garden Street, ground floor
  • Littaeur Building (Harvard Kennedy School), ground floor
  • Mather House, first floor

Community Outreach

As part of the Department's Community-Oriented Problem-Solving philosophy, HUPD officers are assigned small geographic areas of responsibility and are tasked with building relationships with the community. As those relationships grow officers become familiar with problems specific to their area through the increased communication and interaction with community members. The HUPD feels community members are more likely to trust officers that they see on a repetitive basis, and who engage them on occasions that are not incident-based.

If your school, house, department, or location want to arrange for an officer to come out and conduct a safety talk or a bicycle/laptop registration, please contact one of the sergeants assigned to your community-policing  team in order to arrange the meeting.


Community members who see HUPD officers as fellow members of their community - and not just enforcement officials - are far more likely to share information on criminal activity or other problems than they would with someone who is a stranger, albeit one who wears a uniform. Therefore, officers are encouraged to form relationships with the community above and beyond answering calls for service. These conversations present an opportunity for officers to solicit information about ongoing problems and concerns, thereby facilitating officers' problem-solving efforts.

In addition to the daily informal face-to-face contacts officers have while on patrol, HUPD officers perform more formalized community outreaches as well. Outreaches consist of safety talks, bicycle and laptop registrations, brown-bag lunches, and other more structured events where HUPD officers provide students, faculty, and staff direction and steps they can take to maintain their own safety and the security of others and to familiarize them with the Department and the many services that it offers.