Your Rights and Responsibilities When Interacting with the HUPD

The mission of the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) is to maintain a safe and secure campus by providing quality policing in partnership with the community. The HUPD's relationship with the community is vital to achieving this shared objective. All community members should expect to be treated in a respectful and professional manner by members of the Department. The HUPD continually strives to strengthen the bonds with the community we serve and to advance and bolster confidence in the actions we take in the course of our responsibilities.

Harvard University Identification Cards


The information below describes what members of the community can expect when asked to produce Harvard University identification cards by a University official, including an HUPD officer. The Department recognizes that these requests can be uncomfortable, create anxiety, and be seen as questioning a person’s full membership in the Harvard community. Through this document, the HUPD seeks to outline when, why and how requests for identification might be made, as well as the standards of professionalism the community should expect from the HUPD in these interactions. It also outlines steps community members can take to help facilitate a constructive encounter.

Harvard University provides its students, faculty, and staff with a Harvard identification card that affords access to numerous activities and locations on campus. These cards allow entry into University buildings, offices, and parking facilities. In addition, they allow employee and student identification for business transactions on campus and the ability to attend events that may be open only to the Harvard community.

With a community of more than 20,000 students and 30,000 faculty and staff, identification cards serve as a readily available and positive means of identifying ourselves as members of the Harvard community. Especially given the open and urban environment in which we operate, the cards are an important part of the campus’s security environment. As a result, all members of the University community are responsible for having their Harvard University identification cards available whenever present on University property. In addition, all members of the community are expected to present their Harvard identification card at the request of any properly identified University official.

Reasons your card may be requested include:

  • Access to areas on campus that are normally closed or locked;
  • For identification purposes after hours or on holidays or weekends when parts of the University are typically not open for business;

  • For identification purposes in an emergency, medical or otherwise;

  • Whenever it is necessary to ascertain whether a person is a member of the University community or an authorized visitor;

  • If needed to memorialize witnesses or participants in an event in, for example, a Harvard University Police Department report;

  • Whenever the HUPD has a reasonable basis to believe that someone may be on University property in violation of University regulations or that a crime has been, is in the process of being, or is about to be committed.

University identification may not be requested based solely upon race, age, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, gender presentation, or sexual orientation, dress, or unusual or disheveled or impoverished appearance, in the absence of listed characteristics in a specific description or without some other indicator that the person is related in some way to criminal activity or a threat to the University community.

The University’s Identification Policy can be found at

Community Contacts


HUPD officers regularly greet, talk with, and have a wide variety of contacts with community members. Most of these contacts are routine and informal. Often students, faculty, staff, and visitors approach officers for information or directions, to report a crime, to seek assistance, and to occasionally report something to the police about which they are concerned. In all these circumstances, officers are expected to deal with the community respectfully, helpfully, and courteously.

As part of our efforts to facilitate safety on campus, it is occasionally necessary for HUPD officers to stop members of the University community and ask for information. These interactions are inherent to any effort to protect a community and offer the HUPD more context through which to evaluate situations. As with a request for identification, HUPD officers recognize that these contacts may result in a certain amount of inconvenience, and may raise heightened emotions or concerns about inclusion and belonging. As such, we are acutely aware of the need to conduct our work in a way that is fully respectful and appreciative of the great diversity at Harvard and our responsibility to ensure that our work on behalf of the campus is undertaken with sensitivity and care.

If you are stopped by an HUPD officer, you should expect the following:

  • The interaction will be courteous and professional;

  • It will be as brief as possible given the circumstances;

  • The officer will provide an explanation for the stop. (It is important to note that it may not always be possible for this explanation to occur at the beginning of the encounter);

  • An apology for any inconvenience will be made if appropriate;

  • All HUPD officers will identify themselves by name and badge number when requested; and

  • Officers not in uniform will clearly identify themselves as law enforcement officers by announcing that fact and presenting their badges.

The HUPD takes seriously its responsibility to protect the rights of all members of our community and will not stop people in a manner that unlawfully discriminates on the basis of race, age, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, gender presentation, or sexual orientation.

If you are stopped by a law enforcement official, please:

  • Remain calm and respectful;

  • Do not run or walk away from the officer;

  • Comply with the officer’s directives and identify yourself, if asked, by presenting your University identification;

  • Wait for the right opportunity to ask any questions you may have; and

  • Note the name of the officer(s) you had contact with.

The HUPD offers a variety of methods in which community members may submit feedback about their interactions with HUPD officers. If you believe the encounter did not adhere to the standards of professionalism and respect articulated in this document, if you believe you were otherwise not treated appropriately by a member of the Department,, or if you wish to share a compliment about an officer, you are encouraged to bring your concerns and feedback to the attention of the HUPD by being in touch with one of the following individuals:

  • the on-duty supervisor at 617-495-1786 (available 24 hours a day)

  • the Office of the Chief at 617-495-1780 (Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM)

It is important to remember that during an encounter with a law enforcement official may not be the most appropriate time to attempt to address your dissatisfaction with the officer or the situation.

Additionally, community members can file a complaint, raise a concern about the professionalism of an interaction, or commend an officer online at Community members may include their name and email address or remain anonymous.

HUPD Rights and Responsibilities5.87 MB