Duke Police won't count muggings of two graduate students as on-campus crimes in Clery Report

Chronicle story: An autopsy released during winter break revealed that a woman who died at Duke University Medical Center was poisoned by a pain reliever and common antihistamine. But Duke Police are stalling in classifying this as homicide.

✔ FC here.

By "continuing the investigation," Duke Police are avoiding adding this death to the Clery Report on campus crime in 2010.

This is an all too familiar tactic that distorts the picture of campus crime that Clery is designed to convey.

Certainly by the reporting deadline of December 31st, in addition to the autopsy, the police would have reviewed hospital hall surveillance tapes from October 5 that will reveal precisely who entered the victim's room. And also they certainly should have completed fingerprint and DNA testing on the syringes.

These steps alone should be enough to establish how this death occurred and classify it either as a homicide, or as assisting with suicide. Classifying is quite different from bringing criminal charges and requires a different standard of proof.

Fact Checker has been concerned for some time about statistical totals from Duke Police.

✔✔✔✔✔ We have confirmed, for example, via the ubiquitous PR VP Schoenfeld, that the two most serious crimes against students in the fall semester will not be in the next Clery Report.

These are the armed robberies of graduate students on consecutive nights near the intersection of Erwin Road and LaSalle Street.

The south side of Erwin Road at this intersection is all Duke. The corner includes major facilities like the Synderman Building, part of Duke Health.

The Clery Report requires Duke to "disclose crime statistics for the campus, public areas immediately adjacent to or running through the campus, and certain non-campus facilities and remote classrooms.."

We believe the north side of Erwin Road, location of a garden apartment complex filled with Dukies, just yards from Snyderman, qualifies. The robberies occurred by the driveway from LaSalle into the parking lot.

Schoenfeld refused to be drawn into a discussion that would explain Duke's contrary position.

This is not the same time Duke has used this trick. We were alerted to it first by a discrepancy in statistics for 2009.

Duke Police listed nine robberies and 11 victims during the course of a 12 month period in logs that it is required to keep and in press releases, but its Clery count totals only seven robberies.

We have received only obfuscation trying to determine what's going on here.

✔✔✔✔✔ And on another issue, Schoenfeld got downright testy when we pushed to know the number of Duke officers fully trained and available for patrol. We were mindful of years of turmoil and personnel changes in Duke Police, the abrupt and unexplained departure last semester of the associate VP Graves assigned to Police, and the recognition party that President Brodhead threw at the Nasher a year earlier when officers with a combined 372 years of experience took early retirement.

We also noted that at one point, Duke Police had three officers ranked as majors. Today it has none this high.

We wanted to contrast the actual number with the number available for patrol and investigations with the total presented in the Clery Report as "authorized."

Schoenfeld said the number was "adequate." We responded this was a conclusion, and we repeated we wanted the actual numbers. At which point we were told to write that Duke would not tell us.

✔✔ In reaction to the armed robberies of the graduate students and other crimes, Duke Police promised extra patrols in Ninth Street, Trinity Park/Heights and Erwin Road. They have also committed to provide extra patrols on Central Campus.

We have been unable to find out if these patrols continue, and if so, where the officers came from, what area is being cut back. A preliminary check by Deputy Fact Checkers who visited each of these four sites and counted passing police cars over a period of time fails to establish that there is a significant police presence.

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