Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Colby Security, Waterville PD To Get Theirs?

The last post was delayed because there's some news developing pretty quickly out of Pat's and my alma mater. Apparently early Sunday morning Colby security beat the piss out a couple of students with BACs of .09 and .10 after a dance (including at least one Eustis mailroom co-worker of mine and Tim's). They also called Waterville PD in, who proceeded to pepper spray people.

The breaking point is--it was all captured on video. The video was shown at Colby last night and it sounded a lot like Rodney King.

Yesterday, the Waterville Sentinel had a much different story. For those who are unfamiliar with the paper, it prefers to paint Colby students as drunk rich kids from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. Which, for the most part, is true.

I'd really prefer to talk about baseball, but I know there are a lot of members of the Colby community who read this blog and will want to say something. So let's keep two comments sections open today.

If the injuries of these kids at the hands of Colby Security and local police (who refused to give their badge numbers) somehow result in the resignation of Waterville PD Deputy Chief Joseph Massey, Colby Director of Security Pete Chenevert, Assistant Director of Security Jeff Coombs, who apparently led the charge, or even Colby President William Adams who let this and many similar incidents against students of all colors happen under his watch, the injuries will not be in vain. I doubt my co-author has heard about this yet, but I don't anticipate any disagreement.

19 comments:

TimC said...

I'm just going to put some information up here in case some of you guys have been having trouble getting it. A lot of things are happening here on campus related to this event. Last night, as DV said, the cell phone video was shown in the student center and afterwards the hundreds of students gathered took over an hour to discuss everything that was going on. The most immediate effect was the decision to stage a "walk-out" today at noon where students will wear red and gather in the area around the flagpole to demonstrate their outrage over what occurred Sunday morning.

In addition to the behavior of security and Waterville police students were also very fired up over an e-mail sent out by James Terhune (VP of Student Affairs) the morning after the incident which glossed over some of the more disturbing details and, in my opinion, placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the students involved. Students were upset for similar reasons over the Sentinel article that ran on Monday morning. I am not sure if you alums get these official notices from campus; if not, and you want to see it, shoot me an e-mail (tyconcan@colby.edu) and I'll be happy to forward it.

The one final point about what has been happening is that the students arrested were all black; although I do not want to jump to conclusions without knowing all the details, it is easy to see how this can be interpreted as a situation where race was a factor. Certainly, a number of students on campus feel this way and I can understand where they are coming from. I know people here at school who have been subjected to questionable treatment from security and police in the past that I doubt would have occurred had they been, say, white.

That's all I have for the moment. I am still gathering my own information and trying to form a judgment that does not rely too much on one side of the story. I do feel that the incident illustrates an underlying problem between students and security that has existed here for, as far as I understand, years, and that this is something that needs significant attention to be repaired. I am also concerned because Colby has recently implemented some VERY vaguely worded policies regarding the last day of classes and senior steps. Given that this incident was sparked by a student refusing to receive medical attention I am concerned that in a few weeks there will be more ugliness if students feel that receiving medical attention will lead to a loss of Senior Week or graduation privileges.

the gm at work said...

For those curious, the student version of the story and the video are available here:

http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-243844

Ross Kaplan said...

I guess $60,000 tuition doesn't buy what it used to.

Pat F said...

i was aware of this as of yesterday GM, though i went in to today looking for more details. that video is gruesome. thanks timc for sharing. can you provide any more color as to what you think actually happened, start to finish? i know that is probably very tough if you weren't there, but i respect your judgement and you will be able to better judge from where you are than i will from where i am, so even if you have to make some assumptions, i'd like to hear what you think happened. same goes for gunn or anyone else that is close to the situation.

Anonymous said...

PF/Timmy/DV

I talked to Waterville police this morning. They feel that the entire situation is very, very unfortunate (and it is). They are also not thrilled at being the last line of defense--by the time they get a call things are already out of hand--as was the case this past Sunday morning.

Further, one of the officers hit upon what many of us have been saying for a while--Colby Security is terrible at what it does. They are not trained in any form and have no idea how to diffuse any sort of heated situation.

Colby is to blame to for the acts that happened Sunday night, and for a variety of reasons, only one of which I care to go into detail on in this space. The main issue is that Colby employs a security force that is not accountable to anyone. They do a terrible job and have been doing a terrible job for years now. At this point, Colby Security has no purpose; the officers are incapable of handling minor issues, blow them up into major issues, can't handle major issues, and need to call the police. All Colby needs is a dispatcher to tell Waterville PD when really bad things are happening and they can then come in and put out fires. If Colby wants these problems to stop (and the resulting negative publicity) it needs to overhaul it's policies on drinking (return to the days when Colby was a fun to place to go) and fire the entire security force and hire and train all new members.

--the Gunn

Pat F said...

gunn - thanks for weighing in. i had a distinct feeling, both from the things i've heard about this incident as well as my own experienced with colby security, that what you wrote was the case. the fact that there is little to no accountibility bothers me almost as much as their general incompetance (but not as much - it's embarrassing that a school could do such a poor job keeping it's students - you know, the ones that create the revenue - safe).

being that you are an attorney in that region and familiar with their proceedings, how do you see this thing going down?

TimC said...

I just returned from a gathering of students on campus. Guessing numbers based on what I see is something that has always been tricky for me; given that, I will estimate that somewhere around 800 students showed up in front of Miller with around 400-500 staying for the entire hour and a half gathering. Students who addressed the crowd from a microphone waited by the flagpole and took turns sharing their thoughts and experiences and the crowd was generally very well behaved and supportive.

We had the opportunity to hear a number of eyewitness accounts and I will try to summarize everything that I heard here. As the dance was winding down a student who had been drinking was asleep on a couch in a room in the student center. Security saw the student, woke him, and after determining he was drunk called in CER to bring medical attention to the student. (It was from this point on that a number of the witnesses saw what was going on and came over to investigate.) Things started to get out of control when security tried to clear the area, first by asking, then by physically removing, a couple of the students who had converged on the scene. Based on my understanding at this point things could probably have been diffused and order maintained.

However, things quickly went south. Security ended up doing two things. First, they began to physically restrain the students from any further action by pinning them to the ground, rather forcefully in one case. Second, they called in back-up from local police under the grounds that they felt threatened by the situation. This, I think, led the police to come in not just from town but from surrounding towns and the county sheriff's office. The video that was linked above was shot around this time and the enduring image is of police bursting in and pepper spraying or macing one of my fellow students as he was restrained by THREE security officers. During this time, the student was insisting that he was calm and not resisting.

Once this occurred the area was rapidly and aggressively cleared out. Visibly shaken students who were trying to gather themselves outside were told, under the threat of arrest for trespassing (in their own student center!), to leave the scene and return to their rooms quickly. Failure to comply, they were told, would result in further police action. Other students around campus reported police and security moving together and ordering uninvolved students back to their rooms. The next morning, e-mails, newspaper articles, and the video came out that painted the situation from different perspectives.

That's what I learned today. I think what I wrote hits on what Gunn said about security and their qualifications to handle certain parts of their job. The drinking policy, certainly, needs a major overhaul as does the judgment of security in how to deal with situations. I have heard that the student who was asleep on the couch blew a 0.10 BAC. That does not create dangerous situations. Further, students expressing concern on another's behalf does not create a dangerous situtation. Somehow, that combination led to a dangerous situation. Baffling. I'll be back on later tonight after I take a test with some reaction and any new news.

Anonymous said...

Tim

Your post accurately reflects what I've heard from a variety of sources (of course you live up there so you'd know better than I would). It's really too bad that things like this have to happen. A .10 BAC is legally intoxicated, but it's not a BAC that generally leads to dangerous, belligerent behavior.

PF

How does this turn out? For those arrested it likely will be something insignificant. I could see deferred sentences ultimately ending in dismissals (very favorable for the students if they can work those out) provided that their criminal backgrounds are non-existent (which I would presume they are). The bigger issue is how Colby will handle this going forward. Will the administration make changes where it needs to (Security)? Or will it try to make more rash changes in an area destined to cause more problems (i.e. any attempt to stamp out alcohol)? By now the answers should be obvious, but as we've all learned by hanging around this blog even the most obviously correct decision, be it baseball related, or otherwise, is often not made.

--the Gunn

Pat F said...

thanks timc and gunn. gunn, what about legal ramifications for colby and/or security officers? is a suit that has real legs possible?

the gm at work said...

If that two-minute video is all the evidence the students have against security, they have nothing. I've heard there is more video to be released soon.

In a conversation I had with the Franchise last night, I said that in this case, President Adams might actually be able to re-do what he did with Bucknell. After this incident, especially if it becomes a matter of drunk idiots getting arrested and typical anti-security backlash, President Adams will certainly have the support of at least some of the Board of Trustees to make it a dry campus--exactly what he did at Bucknell and exactly what he was trying to do circa 2003-2004 when all those "Buck Fro" shirts came out.

Either way, there has to be something addressed about the security department, because they do not keep people safe. They drive recklessly in their SUV with the little toy lights on top of their cars and almost run people over, they refuse to give female Colby students rides from North Street in the middle of the afternoon when they feel threatened by harassing Waterville middle school students, they are unwilling to cross the Oakland border to pick a summer employee up in the middle of a heat wave, they are generally uncooperative, especially when the Saints vs. Panthers are on television and you're locked out of your room, and instead of helping people they patrol the hallways looking to confiscate booze.

As has been discussed earlier, there is no accountability at all. If Rizzo wants to discipline students for taking care of a drunk friend, or if Dickinson (AKA "Redbeard") wants to punch the hood of your SUV without reprisal, President Adams, Jim Terhune, and others are A-OK with that.

That has to change.

The priority of keeping students safe instead of instigating conflict and keeping the Waterville PD on speed dial to further escalate incidents has to stop. As I said earlier, this is not the first such incident--just the first one on camera.

John said...

I know that I am completely unqualified to comment on Colby Security, but seenig as I did go to college I have a good idea of how useless they are 95% of the time. I've had a friend who was needlessly stopped and patted down by security and nothing has come from it, but still an easy overstep of their boundries.

The video did not seem all that bad to me, the person was bleeding, I have no idea to what extent, and it did not seem like it was a recreation of Rodney King. I didn't see any pepper spray but could have just missed it, that would incredibly out of line. I understand not just letting someone go who says they are complying but the number of guards, and seemingly no movement towards picking the student up(even if cuffed) is ridiculous. From reading what TimC said, i would agree that they took a non-violent situation and completely screwed it up and this resulted. I am somewhat skeptical that all students were complete angels during this time though.

I guess the point I'm attempting to make is it looks like Colby Security really screwed up what could have been handled easily, however I also don't quite understand the outrage against this, particularly to this level based upon what I've seen(If they pepper spray a complient person on the ground I will completely reverse course). Maybe it is mostly a Colby thing and that's why I don't understand. Just figured someone may find an outsiders perspective somewhat interesting.

Anonymous said...

I am a student at UConn. I was notified of this by my friend who was in attendance when the situation took place. Everything discussed in this forum so far touches all bases. I just wanted to talk about the comparisons between appropriate and inappropriate ways to handle drunken students. The best example I can come up with is Spring Weekend. Anyone in New England should have heard of Spring Weekend at some point but for those who don't it is a gigantic, nearly week long, party in which thousands of kids flock every year along with thousands of UConn students, to celebrate the last weekend before finals. It is not ridiculous to think that this type of event can get out of hand. However, in my personal experiences with UConn Police, I find them to be realistic, effective, and rational people in general. For the most part Spring Weekend is a good time but there are always those kids that get crazy and stupid and end up with their faces on the concrete and a burly UCP officer on their back. These police officers are surrounded by thousands upon thousands of drunken students and for the most part don't need to use physical force against anyone, and can often be seen taking a few beer pong shots. The fact that these security officers found one student, who in my opinion at .1 BAC was probably just over mildly buzzed and taking a quick beer nap, and turned it into a huge fiasco involving state troopers and whatnot is definitely an outrage. Also, I find it ironic that "security" can take a "secure" situation and fuck it up.

Anonymous said...

John

The force applied in this situation (I haven't seen the video--my computer sucks) may have been excessive, it may not have been. On some level the student outrage at Colby is just a chance for kids who want to make a political statement to be heard. Those people don't get it and never will. For the rest of us, the problem is that this type of situation is always waiting to happen. Colby security routinely screws even the simplest situations up. They are incapable of diffusing situations and exacerbate minor problems on a weekly basis. The fact that Colby's administration has done nothing to address this problem has created a situation where something as serious as what happened this past weekend was just waiting to happen and could very well happen again (or worse) in the future. That's what I'm fired up about anyway.

UConn

Sounds like your school probably trains its security staff and clearly the students benefit. One would think that training security would be an obvious step, but unfortunately Colby has yet to hop on board common-sense train. Thanks for two cents on that topic and hopefully you'll continue to post.

--the Gunn

John said...

Gunn,

So it seems like its a Colby-specific problem that is causing most of the outrage then, which I can't understand really so I won't question it. The force may be excessive, I think its tough to tell, but I'm also not a cop, nor was I there so I'm not the best barometer for excessive force.

Anonymous said...

Let this be a lesson to everyone about what happens when a lot of people don't do their jobs all at the same time.

-bandi

the gm said...

Bandi,

Are you talking about the security incident or are you talking about the Red Sox the last week?

John and UConn,

Thanks a lot for your input. It's unfortunate that the video circling around the Internet is the only footage of the incident, because I have heard there is more. Toward the end of the video there is footage of a Waterville police officer macing the second kid (the one who is not bleeding) while there are already multiple security officers pinning him to the ground.

UConn,

The major difference there is that it seems like your campus police seems to appreciate keeping the peace. If people are doing some stupid things, they are a lot less confrontational about it.

Colby Security has been this way for years and years. During a high school summer camp, as an act of revenge, the security officers pulled the fire alarm in a dorm at 3:00 in the morning (which, I'm pretty sure, is illegal). They patrol the campus trying to incite conflict. Once they find conflict, they try to fan the flames. It's like when Bandi tries to troll the comments section of this blog, just looking to get people going.

The combative actions of the Colby security department, including the director of security Pete Chenevert, have escalated steadily, and I think it serves them right that the time they finally got caught doing something like this on camera when there's something going on other than just hearsay, it becomes a race issue. Personally (and maybe it's just because I'm white), I think the race issue is secondary. It's the excessive use of force that is typical of this squad.

And at some point, because there is no accountability, you have to point the blame to those supervising the security officers. That goes right to President Adams, who is the Bud Selig of Colby College in at least a dozen different ways.

the gm said...

P.S. If only UConn police could prevent laptop theft.

Pat F said...

uconn - excellent job, thanks for your input. i hope you post again and regularly.

gunn and timc - great info all day here today, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Considering everyone is aware of the laptop thievery and the perpetrators in the case, I'd say they did a pretty good detective job. Although we were issued a pretty funny warning/emergency system notification that warned of a situation that occurred late one night. Apparently a girl was walking or waiting for a bus somewhere, some guy came up behind her and didn't say anything, didn't touch her, and didn't come into her personal space, just stood behind her, and then walked away without saying anything. The fact that the police took that one seriously is beyond me.