Student search not included in police reports.
Campus police pulled a nursing freshman out of class Oct. 4 in Gonzales Hall after receiving a call about a man carrying a gun.
The student fit the description in the initial police report of “a black male wearing a gray sweater and blue jeans pants … ” but he was determined to not be “carrying a handgun.”
In fact, he says he doesn’t even own a gun.
The student complied when he was asked to face the wall for a pat down, which police can conduct without a person’s consent. But it is concerning that he says district police proceeded to search his backpack without asking for his consent.
Students should not have their rights glossed over when they step onto campus. Legally, police need to ask permission before going through an individual’s personal belongings.
Additionally, the only mention of the suspect in the police reports is that “an individual who matched that description” was identified. “The reporting party said he was not the individual that she saw.”
Then he was released back to class. “No further action taken. End of report.”
No mention was made of a pat down or backpack search. This raises questions of professionalism. If a student or students were pulled out of class, patted down and had their belongings searched, that should definitely be documented.
Police, by the nature of their job, come into contact with the public in legally touchy situations on a daily basis.
While eyewitness reports are invariably incomplete, officers should be held to a higher standard.
What is the value of police records if officers cannot be bothered to file accurate, complete reports? These reports become the written history of what occurred.
If officers are not held accountable for writing complete, accurate reports regarding a backpack search, then how can we trust that they will not leave out more volatile incidents than an alleged search without consent.
The issue here is that the witness says a non-consensual search happened, yet, two weeks after the incident, Deputy Chief Jesse Trevino was unable to comment because incomplete reports left him unaware that a search had occurred.
Humans in general are poor witnesses. Stories conflict and misunderstandings occur. Memories easily fade or become distorted. Perhaps that is why police are required to file reports immediately after an incident. But what use is that if their reporting is lackadaisical and superficial?
Maybe the student did consent to a search, perhaps unknowingly. We don’t know the officers’ side of the story. The official documents of the event don’t even acknowledge the incident occurred.
Police are tasked and trusted with protecting and serving this community. By the nature of their job, they must be given power, but with power must come accountability.