AMHERST, Mass. (CBS/AP) — A new report examining what went wrong at the so-called Blarney Blowout parties in Amherst last March faults both UMass for failing to recognize the potential for things to get out of hand and the town of Amherst’s police for the premature use of pepper spray to disperse crowds.
The report released Thursday was the result of an investigation conducted by former Boston Police Commissioner and current WBZ-TV Security Analyst Ed Davis.
Dozens of people, including many students, were arrested and four police officers suffered minor injuries when alcohol-fueled pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebrations got out of control in several areas around town.
Davis’ 65-page report says town police were “overwhelmed and unprepared.”
“This report contains some hard observations, and I commend the university for taking a detailed look at this problem and to everyone involved for sharing their candid observations,” Davis said on Friday.
“There was general agreement among all stakeholders that the 2014 Blarney Blowout was a collective failure by the town, the university and the students. They expressed a desire to move forward together with a collective responsibility to provide improved safety and a better quality of life for everyone in Amherst.”
UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Amherst John Musante say they are taking seriously the report’s recommendations for avoiding similar problems in the future.
In an announcement on Friday, UMass President Robert Caret said the report is an important step in changing the culture of the university.
“The recommendations that former Commissioner Davis makes are serious ones, and I hope that all parties will take steps to implement them,” said Caret.
“I know that we at the university will do our part, and I further know that we look forward to working closely with the Town of Amherst and other parties to bring about the changes that are needed and create the new climate that we seek.”
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