T

O:

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy

FROM
:

Gerry Leone

R
E:

University of Massachusetts Student
Confidential Informant Program

DATE:

January 13, 2015

The University of Massachusetts Amherst (“UMAmherst”) asked Nixon Peabody to
perform an internal review as external counsel of the UMAmherst Police Department’s
(“UMAPD”) use of confidential informants. UMAmherst commissioned the review after news
reports revealed details about UMAPD’s interactions with a UMAmherst student named Eric
Sinacori who died of a drug overdose in October 2013.
Our strong present and ultimate conclusion and recommendation is that UMAmherst
discontinue the practice of UMAPD Officers handling and using students as Confidential
Informants (“CIs”), and similarly discontinue the present UMAPD Student CI Program.
Our conclusions and recommendations take into account a suggested more global
approach to how UMAmherst will handle student drug issues on its campus.
Although a Student CI policy may exist, if for no other purpose other than accreditation
requirements, it will preclude the UMAPD from handling Student Confidential informants
(“SCIs”) within the UMAPD.
Local non-UMAPD Law Enforcement Authorities or Law Enforcement Officers
(“LEAs” or “LEOs”) may still use UMAmherst students in an investigation. Either may
unilaterally use a UMAmherst student as a CI resulting from on- or off-campus activity, but
under no circumstances will UMAPD officers actively engage in the use of a UMAmherst
student as a CI at any stage, in any way, or in any form.
The clear stated policy of UMAmherst and the UMAPD will be for non-University LEAs
and LEOs to inform UMAmherst via a newly formed “UMAmherst Student CI Team” when they
have chosen to use a UMAmherst student, whether as a CI or for other police activity such as
undercover work. In conformity with their own CI policies, each of which should use best
practices including a due diligence component, when deciding whether and how to use a CI, the
University will expect that the LEO or LEA will contact the University to request information
about the student, thereby ensuring that the University understands the LEA or LEO’s intention
of using the student and/or the student’s information in non-UMAPD investigations.

The UMAmherst point of contact for such aforementioned interactions will be a team
comprised of the following elements. This newly formed UMAmherst Student CI Team will be
comprised of the Chief of UMAPD and head of the UMAPD DB, the UMAmherst V.C. for
Student Affairs and Campus Life, and the UMAmherst Directing Attorney for Student Legal
Services. To formalize the UMAmherst Student CI Team, we recommend that UMAmherst
draft and consider a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) that details the future
collaboration, communication, coordination and cooperation between UMAPD and external
LEAs and LEOs. We further recommend that the above-mentioned MOU also clearly and
concretely formalize the interdepartmental collaboration specifically with respect to using
UMAmherst SCIs.
Our review took into consideration UMAmherst’s hierarchical reorganization, including
the recent realignment of the UMAPD under the Department of Student Affairs; the extensive
year-long review of residence hall security measures, many of which UMAmherst recently
implemented; and the Davis Report, after which UMAmherst improved communication and
coordination with state and local LEAs and LEOs. Notwithstanding the above, and regardless of
whether the University adopts our recommendations, suggestions and ultimate conclusions, in
whole or in part, we suggest and recommend that UMAmherst:

Foster better coordination between UMAPD and residence hall staff;

Improve residence hall security, including electronic signature sign-in at
UMAmherst residence halls and facilities, UMAmherst staff training, on campus
cameras at select locations that are mindful of the sensitive balance between
privacy and security, and other security measures that are presently under
consideration;

Adopt, implement, and encourage better use of the 4 C’s (Cooperation,
Coordination, Collaboration and Communication) between the UMAPD and
local, municipal, state and federal LEAs and LEOs;

Enhance education and training for UMAPD Officers and Command Staff.

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