In pursuit of full transparency, the University of Minnesota Department of Public Safety has a policy regarding the release of records surrounding a tense incident. The department wishes to dispel misunderstandings about the facts during a misconduct investigation, so it asks its campus police force to record and report all data regarding their conversations, interactions, and behaviors.
Sometimes, this can help a school pursue justice when presented with a problematic incident.
Other times, this information serves only to fuel a fire of misunderstanding, hurt, and further false allegations.
Differing Reports, Same Incident: Recent Dash-cam Footage Disagrees with Student Testimony
Just after 1:30 AM on February 1st, 2021, the University of Minnesota's Department of Public Safety took a call concerning a robbery. When the campus police discussed the incident with the victims, the officers learned that the two alleged suspects were carrying guns.
The released dash-cam footage concerning the incident shows the campus police speaking with a potential person of interest at 1:42 AM that same morning. The officers had stopped the individual because they believed that person matched a description they had of the suspect—and the individual was close to the scene of the incident. The officers quickly decided that the individual was not a suspect, and they drove away.
Later accounts of this early morning conversation posed differing views of what occurred. The person the police stopped, a student at the University, posted his version of events on his social media account. In his post, the student accused the campus police officers of racial profiling, harassment, and criminalization.
When faced with adjudicating this matter, the University had only the two differing accounts - the dash-cam footage and the student's social media post - to use in order to mete out disciplinary measures. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the University sided with the police force. The student received a request to apologize to campus police, take down the social media post, and cease all email campaigns related to the matter.
This story reveals a fatal flaw in the so-called transparency of current reporting practices. When multiple accounts of an incident do not line up, the school sometimes has to make a decision based on little information. The result may seem trivial to the school, but it could make all the difference for the student.
It's important to realize that even if you haven't technically broken any laws, a report that paints you in a bad light could seriously affect your experiences at school and after it. You need to take action now to make sure that this doesn't happen.
Reach out to an experienced student defense lawyer today to make the best of an unclear or bad situation.
Joseph D. Lento is Ready to Help if Your School's Reporting Methods Go Awry
Modern reporting and surveillance methods purport to help students and teachers alike benefit from transparency after a tense incident. However, in practice, it's easy for a ‘bad cop' to take advantage of glitches in tech systems or antiquated reporting methods. You could very easily find yourself the victim of a false accusation or overly punitive reactions from your school.
Joseph D. Lento knows precisely how to hold your school accountable to your rights during a disciplinary adjudication process. Call the Lento Law Firm today to learn more about what we can do for you. The number is 888-535-3686; or alternatively, you could fill out our brief online form to request more information.