The Bridgewater State University Police Department (BSUPD) is the law enforcement arm of Bridgewater State University. The BSUPD is charged with the protection of the lives and property of more than 12,000 Bridgewater State University students, faculty, staff, and visitors on nearly 300 acres of University land and 38 major buildings, as well as the streets and other passageways adjoining University property. Officially, the BSUPD was founded in 1966, but the department did not formally have a chief until 1969, when the department's first police chief, Anthony Andre, was appointed. Before 1966 the institution employed night watchmen, who were assigned to patrol the campus from at least the mid-1940s, and possibly much longer. Chief Andre worked with six other officers. The chief and the officers were armed with .38 caliber revolvers. From 1966 to 1971 the police station was located in a one-room brick building behind Woodward Hall. The officers patrolled the campus in a white, 1962 Chevrolet station wagon.
From 1971 to until 2003 the police were housed in a small, converted former residence at the corner of Burrill Avenue and East Campus Drive. Until 1990 the building also housed the administrative staff of the institution's Facilities Department. The police department took over use of the entire building in 1991. Chief Andre retired in 1974 and was replaced by Fortunato Graca, who, in 1975, was promoted from patrol officer to chief of police. Chief Graca was formerly an officer with the Veterans Administration police force stationed at the Brockton V.A. Hospital, and, before that time, a member of the U.S. Navy.
Chief Graca enacted a number of improvements in the police department, including the appointment of the department's first sergeant and, later, a lieutenant as second-in-command of the department. Chief Graca also appointed the department's first female police officer, Carol Fagan, and first female sergeant, Janice Cunningham. Officers attended the municipal police academy for the first time.
Chief Graca retired in 1994 and was replaced by his second-in-command, Lieutenant David Tillinghast, who is the department's current chief of police. Early in his tenure, Chief Tillinghast authored the police department's first comprehensive standard operating procedures manual, acquired the department's first computer system, dramatically increased the size of the police staff, and created a full command staff structure consisting of sergeants, lieutenants, a captain, and deputy chief. Chief Tillinghast organized the BSUPD into several divisions and units, including the uniformed patrol division and a detective division comprising four investigators.
Tillinghast updated the police cruiser fleet several times, and added several specialized vehicles such as a prisoner transport van and police ambulance. Firearms and special tactical weapons and associated training were also modernized and updated. More recently, Chief Tillinghast moved the police department out of the Burrill Avenue building into a new, purpose-built police station within the campus Operations Center on Great Hill Drive. The new police station boasted its own, dedicated prisoner holding facilities, a modern communications center, and two new radio repeating stations.
Today the BSUPD is widely recognized as the premier state university police department in Massachusetts. The department stands ready to deal with the same kinds of incidents that any small-city police department handles. Indeed, the department is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and law enforcement tools, enabling it to respond to virtually any emergency.