PBA Of NYS Files Complaint Against UAlbany
The Police Benevolent Association of New York State says University at Albany Police have their hands cuffed when it comes to executing their duty to protect and serve. The college disputes the criticism.
"We contend, and it was in yesterday's Times Union newspaper, a lengthy article, that the University at Albany administration is putting its students faculty and staff in danger by neglecting its duties to report, in a timely manner, as required by the federal law under the Clery Act, they're required to report risks and dangers involving violent crimes and they're failing to do that."
The Clery Act is a consumer protection law that aims to provide transparency around campus crime policy and statistics. Speaking on campus, PBA Executive Director and Counsel Daniel De Federiciscited a rape in a dorm room on the campus' Dutch Quad in the early morning of October 23rd, 2016. "In the past month alone, three rapes and two sexual assaults were reported here to the University Police department. While the rank and file police officers believe that the students should be notified, and that's a point I want to make, they are not allowed to issue the timely warning. It's done at a high administrative position, after apparently a staff meeting is what the president's prepared remarks said to the Times Union. At 3 a.m. you can't do that. You can't give a timely warning if you have to wake administrators up."
After the 2016 rape, De Federicis says, Franklin Casatelli of Guilderland remained at large with no warning given to the campus community for eight hours. Casatelli was later sentenced to 37 years in prison. "To put this in context, the University at Buffalo, another SUNY school, their standard is 15 minutes or less. And that makes sense. If you have a son or daughter or a family member that works here and you know of, the campus knows about a violent crime, wouldn't you want them notified within minutes and not hours?"
Most of the students I spoke with on campus Monday were not aware of the PBA's concerns. One said she does get occasional emails related to campus crime.
De Federicis alleges UAlbany failed students again last week following an armed robbery at the nearby Campus Mobil station. The suspects were reported running onto the UAlbany campus. The warning was issued two hours later.
The Times Union reported Sunday that in mid-January De Federicis dashed off a letter to UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez, after Rodríguez declined several requests to meet with union officials to discuss problems including low morale and attrition of police officers. The PBA filed a report with the U.S. Department of Education alleging Clery Act violations by the college. Rodríguez replied a week later, rejecting all allegations leveled by the PBA.
University spokesman Jordan Carleo-Evangelist responded to a request for comment by email, which is posted at left (click on image to enlarge). You can read the full text of the Clery Act at the Federal Register here.
De Federicis would like to see immediate policy changes to allow police to get warnings out in minutes. "University at Albany officials refuse to acknowledge their failings and are hiding from these facts. They're refusing press interviews. They're hiding behind carefully crafted written denials. The PBA is calling on the University at Albany administration and specifically, University President Rodríguez to stop delaying notifications to its students, faculty and staff."
The University issued a statement, which is posted above. It reads in part: "The unfortunate allegations in the PBA’s letter appear to be the result of either a misunderstanding or misapplication by the union of what the Clery Act actually requires and, in some cases, without the benefit of all the relevant facts. The University is confident that, in each instance cited by the PBA, the actions taken by the University were reasonable and consistent with the Clery Act."
Rodríguez' response reads in part "The University takes its Clery Act repsonsibilities very seriously, as our foremost concern is the safety and well-being of all members of the campus community."
Last summer, claiming UAlbany Police policies were jeopardizing public safety, the union cast a no-confidence vote against UAlbany Police Chief J. Frank Wiley, Deputy Chief Aran Mull and the university administration, stopping short of calling for anyone's ouster.
Campus police at UAlbany Monday said no one was available to comment.
UAlbany Letter In Response To PBA on Scribd