LTE: A Response to “BCPD Does Not Report Student’s Alleged Sexual Assault in September”

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I write to express my disappointment and frustration about a recent article and editorial that was published in the last edition of The Heights on Thursday May 4, 2017.  This is in regards to a sexual assault that was initially reported in September of last year, and was believed to have been committed somewhere in the city of Boston.  Let me first say that the work done by our officers in the Detective Bureau and Patrol Operations was highly professional, supportive of the victim/survivor and demonstrated investigatory excellence and sensitivity to the victim/survivor. Additionally, I am very concerned for the victim/survivor in this case.  The misinformation and inaccuracies of the Heights article and editorial were not helpful.  

When we were first made aware of the case in September 2016, it came under the jurisdiction of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, as it was believed the assault occurred somewhere in the city of Boston.  Six months after the initial report, in April of this year, it was transferred to the Middlesex County DA’s Office. This is when BCPD became the lead investigatory agency.

I have always been helpful to The Heights in providing information about safety and security issues on campus.  However, I am limited in what I can discuss regarding an on-going investigation. I provided The Heights with some answers to their questions for their article and referred them to the Middlesex DA’s Office for further comment. 

The editorial in The Heights included numerous inaccuracies and a lack of understanding of the reporting requirements relating to campus crime.  The Clery Act sets the requirements for notification to the community of certain criminal incidents stating that “serious and continuing” threats to the community should generate a notice.  In the past two and a half years, we have initiated 14 notices to our community regarding safety and security issues.  

The Heights’ assertion that a notification was not made for fear of bad publicity is a reckless and disparaging statement.  In fact, BCPD makes several notifications each school year and does not suppress information for public relations purposes.  The assertion that BCPD and University administration failed to “place the safety of students above BC’s public image “and are “lacking in morality as well” is demeaning and baseless.

The Heights also stated that “BCPD should have gone back and updated the crime log to reflect that the crime took place in their jurisdiction”.  In fact, the Crime Log, a requirement of The Clery Act, was updated to reflect this change. 

I am concerned about the potential impact this article and editorial has had on current and future victims/survivors who may unknowingly feel that BCPD has failed to live up to its obligations to our community and victims of crime.  Additionally, I am concerned that this has the potential of having a detrimental effect on our officers who are committed to keeping our community safe and demonstrate their compassion for our students every day.

While we can reasonably assume that riding in an UBER, a LYFT, a taxi or the MBTA may have inherent dangers, general statements to the community about these risks do not meet the “serious and continuing threat” requirements of the Clery Act.  I believe this can be a point of confusion for some in our community.  

It is regrettable that in a rush to meet a deadline, the Heights appears to have been more interested in a salacious article and editorial than in presenting factual information.

John King, Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of BCPD 

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