DPS threatens, yells profanities at apprehended suspect, student alleges

A student claims that in the early morning of Friday, March 19, 2010 she saw four Department of Public Safety officers apprehend a college-aged man and yell threats and profanities at him after they had cornered him near the Reiss Science Building and Henle Village.

“They said things like … ‘Who do you think you are, motherfucker?'” and threatened to use violence against him, Christine Pfeil (COL ’10), the student who witnessed the alleged incident, said. “The amount of ‘fucks’ I heard from a DPS officer was unreal.”

Pfeil said that the alleged events took place between 2:30 and 3 a.m. As she was walking past Reiss, she said, she noticed a DPS officer on the sidewalk looking up at a hill where five or six men who looked undergraduate-aged were standing. Within seconds, the officer and three other officers ran at the group of men. The men scattered and the four DPS officers caught only one of them.

At this point, Pfeil said, the officers began yelling at the man, using phrases like, “Get on the ground, you piece of shit,” and threatening to use their batons against him.

Pfeil, who became too nervous to watch from the sidewalk, went back to her Henle apartment and watched the rest of the incident from a window. She said that the DPS officers and the man, who she described as a young, white, wearing khaki shorts, and carrying a backpack, stood outside for another 20 minutes or so before the officers led him away in handcuffs.

Joseph Smith, the associate director of the Public Safety Department, said that he had not received a complaint about the officers’ behavior in the incident. He offered several ways that Pfeil could contact him to report what she saw, providing his direct line and offering to meet with her at the DPS office or somewhere else on campus.

“DPS strives to maintain the highest levels of integrity and takes very seriously any allegation of unprofessional behavior,” he wrote in an e-mail.

This morning in a phone call, he stressed again that he would be taking the matter very seriously.

Pfeil said she intends to report the incident to Smith today.

“I don’t know the whole situation,” she said. “I don’t know if the behavior was warranted, if the kids were being rowdy or threatening, if this was a situation where the officers were threatened. But I definitely want to bring this to attention if it is something that needs to be brought to someone’s attention.”

Photo by Juliana Brint

An earlier version of this article quoted Pfeil as saying she remembered a DPS officer saying, “Do you want to get beaten tonight?” Pfeil e-mailed Vox saying that she could no longer remember a DPS officer using those words, although she remembers DPS officers making similar threats.

11 Comments on “DPS threatens, yells profanities at apprehended suspect, student alleges

  1. Language young lady! I’ll have to wash your mouth out with soap if you keep uttering such foul things! Get me a switch!

  2. Is your police force incompetent? Do crimes go completely unsolved? Have you never heard of anyone canvassing an area with “positive” results?

    Well have I got a solution for you. Arm them with batons! Nothing turns a half-witted rent-a-cop into a violent maniac faster! Watch as students cower in fear and let the profanities fly!

    Batons for your rent-a-cops, just $9.99. Call within the next 10 minutes and receive handcuffs, a $29.00 value FREE!

    Warning. Arming your rent-a-cops may result in a net increase in baton-related crimes. Armed rent-a-cops will still not stop the break-ins or find your stolen property. Use as directed.

  3. It was more like 130 in the morning. I only heard the officer say, “Stop saying you are sorry, don’t give me that sh**, you ain’t sorry.” I am not aware of what the guys had done though.

  4. There’s nothing in the online crime log for 3/19. Do I smell a cover-up?

  5. It’s always a good strategy to, first, go to the press and, second, make an attempt to report something through a reasonable method. I’m not sticking up for DPS. If they did something wrong, they should be held accountable. But the press shouldn’t be used to initiate complaints. It should be used if complaints are ignored or glossed over. Using the press as a first resort is inflammatory and doesn’t allow for a fair and reasonable follow up.

  6. Words can hurt! That’s what I learned from this after school special I once saw. These kids were picking on this other kid and calling him names, and it made him cry! All the name-calling drove him into a deep depression that ended in a crippling drug dependency. By junior high, he was on the street, hustling for bathtub meth. All because of rough language. The more you know, DPS – think about it!

  7. I just want to say that Joseph Smith is a real class act. I have personal experience working with him regarding an incident and he is warm, compassionate and professional. I really believe he does care about making things right for students and that he will take this incident seriously. Having met him gives me a little more confidence than I might otherwise have in the often-ineffective DPS.

  8. @ Steve Thompson, Pfeil initially contacted the Voice and the Hoya for information on how to report the crime. So while she did give us an interview, to be fair, part of her telling us about it was so she could find out who to speak to about it within the University.

  9. I know someone who claims to be one of the many that escaped. He says they all got away quite easily (some high) because of how entirely obese the DPS personnel were. Perhaps instead of batons, they should be given some Slimfast.

  10. More reason why bitching to the press first is unwarranted: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2010/03/26/eyewitness-report-gu-cop-wants-to-know-who-that-motherfucker-thinks-he-is/

    It’s now been picked up by City Paper. Still, no one has actually complained to DPS officially, so they have nothing to investigate. And, Molly, apparently when the Voice was kind enough to provide advice to the story teller about what to do (because she’s such an idiot she can’t figure that out for herself), she didn’t bother to report it anyway.

  11. Pingback: Vox Populi ยป Comments of the Week: What’s your Plan B?

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