PLATTSBURGH – Quiet and heavy describes the atmosphere on SUNY Plattsburgh's campus after last Thursday's traffic stop involving two Black students and University Police officers.
“The community is reacting in various ways, as is often the case with events of this nature, where everyone brings their own lived experiences and perspectives,” according to a statement by college officials.
“People are reaching out in various ways to friends, faculty, and support services however that feels most helpful to them.”
The police report fills in information previously unavailable in Monday's Press-Republican coverage.
University Police pulled over the student, who was driving a red Hyundai Elantra, in front of Macdonough Hall Thursday night for driving without lights on.
The report said the vehicle was suspended due to the insurance not being in effect and that the inspection sticker was issued to a different vehicle.
One of the officers informed the student that University Police was going to have to take the Elantra’s plates and have it towed, and she was allowed to clean her belongings out of the vehicle, the report continued.
Officers were originally going to ticket the student for sub-standard lights, suspended registration and false inspection certificate.
The registration and inspection-related charges are misdemeanors, which is why the officers were placing the student under arrest and had to take her back to the station, University Police Chief Patrick Rascoe confirmed.
The report said the student resisted when officers attempted to escort her into the patrol car; that resulted in the misdemeanor resisting arrest charge.
After being transported to the police station, the student was released and given an appearance ticket.
President Alexander Enyedi released a statement to the campus community Saturday after talking with many parties involved.
His intent is to be transparent and clear, according to a statement.
For the two students directly involved in the traffic stop and their peers triggered by the incident, the Counseling Center and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion started hosting processing spaces in the H.U.B. Tuesday at noon.
Other opportunities will be offered Thursday and Friday at noon to provide members of the community to speak with each other and with trained counselors about the incident and about their reactions.
Support services will be provided for all during these scheduled sessions.
“Overall, SUNY Plattsburgh strives to serve as an equity-minded, student-centered, trauma-informed academy that recognizes and honors the historic and present-day experiences that our students bring with them to every interaction, relationship and experience,” according to college officials.
“As such, we consistently aim to operate within that framework. The two students who were directly involved in this incident are valued, essential members of our community, and we reached out to them promptly upon learning of what transpired that night."
Early Friday morning, Enyedi called and personally spoke with both students to express his concern and his commitment to helping them in whatever ways we could.
The president then mobilized the Diversity Incidence Response Education and Communication Team (DIRECT), who also connected with both students to provide trauma-informed crisis intervention and advocacy.
Team members are: Chief Diversity Officer -- Michelle Cromwell, Ph.D., Vice President of of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Interim Title IX Coordinator; Academic Affairs -- Holly Heller-Ross, Dean of Library & Information Technology Services; Campus Housing & Community Living -- Stephen Matthews, Director; Center for Student Involvement -- Cori Jackson, Assistant Vice President for Student Life; and Human Resources -- Michelle Trombley, Human Resources & Labor Relations Associate.
Chief Rascoe recused himself from deliberations on this case, according to college officials.
Rascoe previously stated that officers fell short of the goal to offer a trauma-informed, student-centered response.
He acknowledged the hurt felt by the driver and her passenger, as well as the campus community.
"I've shared that I was disappointed by the outcome of this incident and wished that more could have been done to prevent the need to use any amount of force,” the chief said Tuesday.
He said he supported the actions of his officers and their need to restrain the student to take her into custody.
“University Police provide a valuable service to this campus and strive daily to do extra to solve problems for our students and employees,” he continued.
“We try to resolve every situation peacefully and take extra steps for a positive outcome.
“We can always do better and are always looking for ways to do that. But sometimes, the actions of another person overcome our best efforts."
There is no time limit for the DIRECT team's investigation, which is dependent on each case and the nature of the incident.
ADDRESSING STUDENTS' NEEDS
EOP and Student Affairs have also been working with both students, to address their immediate needs for support and resources as well as their longer-term needs around best next steps for them.
This group of dedicated and concerned staff remain in regular contact with both students and their families to provide continued support and communication, college officials stated.
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