New UMass Amherst police chief sworn in - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

New UMass Amherst police chief sworn in

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The new UMass Amherst police chief was officially sworn in Thursday morning.

"I'm very excited; I'm very humbled to become a member of the University of Massachusetts Amherst police department," said the new chief, John Horvath.

Horvath says that he plans to lead the department with an interactive approach.

"It's important that the students feel the right to voice their opinions, engage in open dialogue and feel safe because if you don't feel safe you don't learn," Horvath said.

And, the new chief's philosophy doesn't just go for students. He wants to reach out to area residents to make sure that their concerns are being addressed as well.

"There are many of us, a lot of families live here, it's a wonderful neighborhood and as I said we're very concerned as to what is happening," said Amherst resident, Frank Hugus.

Horvath says safety both on and off the campus is his top priority.

"My philosophy in terms of campus safety is very similar to community policing back in the city that I came from Hartford, CT," said Horvath. "And, that is getting to know the members of that community, finding out what is important to them and really blending the needs of what the community is with some of the requirements of the department."

And, as the new leader of a campus with tens of thousands of students Horvath says his department is ready to step in when parties get out of hand.

"I believe that it is important that our students enjoy their college experience, but when that starts impeding on quality of life for residents in those neighborhoods or becomes dangerous based on some of their behaviors or activities that's when the police department needs to step in," Horvath said.

Horvath officially began his new role Sept. 24. He succeeds Chief Johnny Whitehead.

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