The Rocket

Cataloging Campus Crime

Minor infractions can have long term consequences

Adam Zook, News Editor

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The police blotter is a catalog of incidents and crimes that occur on and around SRU’s campus and is published weekly on The Rocket’s companion website.

Student names are included in these reports taken by campus police, highlighting their infraction. Interim Chief of Police Kevin Sharkey has worked for campus police since 1999. He said that issuing citations for students is a regular part of his job and that any student who is charged for a criminal act will find their name published in their daily report.

“Your name ending up in the blotter costs you both financially and professionally,” Sharkey said. “Paying for an attorney to represent you can end up costing you a great deal. You could always try to acquire a public defendant, but if you want your charge expunged from your record, it is my understanding that you would have to pay for the services of an attorney.”

Sharkey has issued hundreds of citations during his time at SRU. He said students who have their name in the blotter are typically charged with underage drinking, theft, disorderly conduct and other minor infractions.

Incoming students who decide to major in education carry an extra burden compared to the average student, according to Dr. Jeremy Lynch, associate professor of special education. He said that charges filed by campus police will show up on background checks when applying for jobs and internships with area school districts.

“Charges of course are never as serious as convictions, but depending on the school district, they will impact your ability to gain and maintain employment,” Lynch said. “This is a case-by-case basis because not every school district has the same policy. Some districts are more sensitive than others when it comes to infractions and how recently they’ve taken place.”

Felony charges, such as child abuse, are classfied as non-starters according to Lynch. Other infractions like driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) can be expunged, but it’s at the discretion of the school district whether or not the infraction will be tolerated.

Dr. Jim Preston is an assistant professor in early childhood education and is in charge of reviewing clearances of education majors who are applying for internships and seeking employment. He said that any time a student receives an infraction from campus police, they meet with him to discuss their options moving forward.

“We put each student through a vetting process to ensure their employability,” Preston said. “We want to make sure our graduates are getting jobs while also looking out for the best interests of the students they may be instructing in the future. Parents deserve the piece of mind that their child is in good and capable hands when they send them off to school.”

Preston has served in this capacity since 2013 and said he typically sees only a handful of students a semester about their infractions. He stressed that the education department would never support someone who they didn’t feel was employable or was not suitable to be an educator for young children. Students are specifically charged with alcohol violations or underage drinking can take courses in an effort to expunge the charge from their record. Part of Preston’s job during the vetting process is to ensure that students are completing required rehabilitation courses, such as accelerated rehabilitation diversion (ARD).

“We notify the school district immediately once we notice an infraction during the vetting process,” Preston said. “We treat our students like teachers and follow up on their progress through the process of expunging something from their record. We relay that information to the school district, and then it’s up to them whether or not they want to hire a student in spite of a prior infraction.”

Dr. Mary Vetere has been a professor at SRU for 19 years and said she has had many students who have had blemishes on their record that impacted their ability to get employed. As an associate professor of elementary and early childhood education, she feels as though guaranteeing that her students are ready and qualified to educate young children should always be the top priority.

“When you see a student make a wrong decision and not be able to move forward, it’s heartbreaking,” Vetere said. “All parents want someone with a good moral compass teaching their students. Teaching young children is the most important job that there is, so students have to have a clean record. That’s all there is to it.”

Vetere said she understands how easy it can be to make poor decisions in college and that she always encourages her students to be mindful of their future employment opportunities.

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Cataloging Campus Crime