DiFava, Reif, and a Massachusetts police lieutenant thank MIT for support

In letters published in today’s Tech, MIT’s police chief and president thank the community for its support over the past week.


MIT Police Chief John DiFava and President L. Rafael Reif authored the following letters that appeared in today’s issue of The Tech, MIT’s student newspaper:

Letter to the MIT community

The loss of Officer Sean Collier has been a blow which has profoundly affected the men and women of the MIT Police Department. The sadness and sense of loss has been deep and painful, and the fact that it was so needless and brutal has made it all the more difficult to accept. I am sure you can imagine what a shock it was for the members of the department when they were first made aware of what happened. There was disbelief, followed by anger, which then gave way to sadness and grief. There was also a sense of isolation, confusion and not knowing where to turn or what to expect.

Help came from many sources, particularly the Cambridge Police. However, the outpouring of support from the MIT community was immediate and overwhelming. In fact, it was humbling. The support was campuswide and was intense in its degree of emotion and took many forms. There were phone calls and emails, flowers and food, a shrine at the scene of the shooting as well as one in front of the Police Department. There were candlelight vigils and people wanting to shake our hands and offer condolences, people who wanted to talk, to listen, or just be close, and those that would nod or smile and others who wanted to embrace. It was intense, it was heartfelt, it was needed, and it brought us back from the edge of despair. It made us realize that Sean mattered, that we mattered. The community closed ranks around us and their desire was to ease our pain and protect us from further harm.

On behalf of the members of the MIT Police Department I wish to thank the MIT community for a show of support that only MIT is capable of. We are proud to serve this wonderful place and will continue to provide a safe and secure environment for our community. Thank you.

With respect,
John DiFava

MIT Chief of Police



A thank you to the community

These last ten days have been difficult for everyone who feels a part of MIT, from those who live and work on campus to those anxiously watching from around the world. So I simply want to say how proud and grateful I am for the way this community has come together. You have supported, protected and cared for each other. You have made intense efforts to keep MIT functioning smoothly. You have reached out far beyond our campus to help those affected by the Marathon attacks. And yesterday, you offered extraordinary respect and sympathy to Officer Sean Collier’s family, friends and colleagues. I have never felt more privileged and grateful to be part of the family of MIT. Thank you.

Responding to the events since the Marathon attacks has also required certain offices and individuals to make extraordinary efforts on behalf of our community. I hope you will join me in thanking them for their invaluable service.

I know it will take some time to come to terms with what we have all experienced. We will each find our own pace for healing. But I hope we can all gain some peace by embracing the comforting, familiar rhythms of our lives together.

With admiration and gratitude,
L. Rafael Reif

MIT President



Lt. Paul Dowd of the Braintree (Mass.) Police Department sent the following note of appreciation to the MIT community, via the News Office:

I would like to thank you and all MIT employees, staff and faculty in attendance at yesterday’s service. I was overwhelmed with emotion as we [sworn officers] filed off the field at the conclusion of the service to the gentle applause of the MIT community. I’ve been a police officer for 38 years and have attended my share of LOD [line of duty] funerals. I don’t recall a larger turnout or such a heartfelt response by civilians in attendance. THANK YOU!!!


Topics: Community, Faculty, Police, President L. Rafael Reif, Sean Collier, Special events and guest speakers, Staff, Students, Letters to the Community

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