News and Updates

PBA of New York State Requests Federal Investigation of Brockport Campus Incident

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Administration’s Silence Prompts Call for Review and Disclosure of Incident Involving High-Capacity Weapon.

The Police Benevolent Association of New York State (PBA of New York State) the union representing 1,100 University, Park, and Environmental Conservation Police; and state Forest Rangers has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) regarding the State College at Brockport’s potential violation of federal law and its inadequate response following an on campus arrest of a student possessing of a loaded, high-capacity rifle and an additional 500 rounds of ammunition.

The complaint stems from events transpiring more than six months ago and associated with the lack of appropriate attention by the State University College at Brockport President John R. Halstead and its Police Chief Robert Kehoe.

According to police records, on Nov. 6, 2011, University Police arrested a defendant, alleging driving while intoxicated. As officers searched the vehicle they discovered a .22 caliber rifle, high-capacity magazine and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. The arrest occurred outside the same dormitories the subject was evicted from just hours earlier, and was his second arrest within a seven-day period. The defendant was subsequently charged, additionally, with weapons possession.

PBA New York State Executive Director Daniel De Federicis wrote to Chief Kehoe on Nov. 18 to praise the actions of UPD Officer Gary Miller and to raise the union’s concern related to the incident and urge the department to supplement its armament consistent with a report prepared in 2007 by the State University of New York Chancellor’s Task Force on Critical Incident Management. Its recommendations called for the procurement and training of the University Police in the use of semiautomatic AR-15 rifles, and the development of both mass and individual alert notification systems. The letter which was advanced to the college president and its police chief was never answered, nor was any response directed to the union. Additionally, the PBANYS is unaware of any administration actions associated with the event.

In the absence of a response the PBANYS contacted the U.S. DOE regarding a possible violation of the Clery Act. Under the federally imposed law, colleges and universities across the United States are required to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The law is tied to participation in federal student financial aid programs and is enforced by the U.S. DOE.

"The PBA of New York State takes great pride in knowing Officer Miller’s actions may have prevented an extraordinary tragedy at the College at Brockport,” De Federicis said. “However, the union also has very serious concerns about the college’s casual treatment of a campus-based incident that had the potential to result in horrific loss of life.”

“Each year, the campus community welcomes thousands of young people and promises their families a safe environment,” said James McCartney, the PBA’s treasurer and director of University Police Officers' Association. “The college also owes that same commitment to the officers that serve and protect the Brockport campus and its students, faculty, staff and visitors. While the use of rifles and firearms hopefully is reserved for training scenarios, our officers must be prepared to respond to real-world events. It is a sad fact that in the last two months shootings on three separate campuses across the country have resulted in the loss of 10 lives.”

The PBA represents more than 500 University Police officers on state university and college campuses across the state. Earlier this year, Michael Mabee, director of University Police Lieutenants' Association and vice president/chief administrative officer of the PBA of New York State offered testimony to the SUNY Board of Trustees. During the session, conducted on the Brockport campus, he once again voiced union’s concerns related to critical incident management.

The U.S. Department of Education has confirmed receipt of the complaint and acknowledged its review and jurisdiction.

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Associated documents:

  1. Chancellor’s Task Force Report on Critical Incident Management
  2. PBANYS Letter to SUNY Brockport Police Chief Kehoe (November 18, 2011)
  3. PBANYS Letter to U.S. Department of Education regarding potential violation of the Clery Act (March 5, 2012)
  4. Written Testimony from Michael Mabee, Vice President and Chief Administrative Office of the PBA of New York State to SUNY Board of Trustees (March 28, 2012)

For additional information, please contact:
Paul Larrabee
plarrabee@corningplace.com
Tel.: 518.689.7246