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City to put bike lanes on Spruce

(12/11/95 10:00am)

In conjunction with the city of Philadelphia, the University proposed building a bike lane on Spruce Street between 34th and 38th streets at a University Council Safety and Security Committee meeting Friday. University officials said the city plans to create a bike lane five feet wide on either direction of Spruce Street. But University officials were concerned about the effect the bike lane might have on parking on Spruce Street. And beginning in either fall 1996 or spring 1997, the city is planning to repave Spruce Street from 34th Street to Cobbs Creek Parkway. Also at the meeting, SEPTA officials presented their plans to step up security at trolley stops at 36th and Sansom streets and at 37th and Spruce streets. They also plan to make aesthetic improvements to the stops, which are used by many members of the University community. SEPTA officials said they have increased police presence at the stations. According to SEPTA Police Sgt. Dennis Metzger, SEPTA Police has assigned four officers to patrol these stations. The police officers provide a visible presence. They also remove homeless people from the stations. Metzger also said SEPTA will revamp its emergency call box system beginning in February 1996. More emergency call boxes will be placed in the stations, and the call boxes will be serviced more often. Other upcoming safety features include a red strobe light outside the station which will alert travelers to danger in the tunnel. Even more visible changes being made to the trolley stops include cleaning all the stations, painting the stations, improving the lighting and retreading the steps that lead to the underground. Director of Victim Support and Special Services Maureen Rush added that SEPTA will be painting the stations the University colors of red and blue. She said SEPTA has also installed mirrors in the 36th and Sansom streets station. Rush thanked the SEPTA officials for being responsive to the University's needs. University Police Lt. Gerald Leddy said University Police has also made increased security efforts at SEPTA stations. He said police are checking the concourses and stairs and checking the emergency phones. Brett Levinson of the Daily Pennsylvanian contributed to this article.

UC committee debates use of high-tech guns

(12/11/95 10:00am)

Doubts expressed about arming officers with semiautomatics Members of the University community blasted a University Police proposal to arm officers with semiautomatic weapons at University Council's Safety and Security Committee meeting Friday. But Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon said his proposal presented the only way for the University to escape from the dark ages of police enforcement. Seamon cited a recent Yale University survey of 80 major universities which found that 94 percent of university police forces are equipped with semiautomatic weapons. Boston College, Duke, Indiana State and North Carolina State universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Penn are the only six schools still using revolvers. And of these six, the University is the only institution located in a high-crime urban area. Penn Women's Center Associate Director Gloria Gay spoke out vehemently against Seamon's plan to arm police with semiautomatic weapons. She said the University Police's use of guns will cause the criminals to escalate their guns as well. "Penn has the opportunity to set a different standard," Gay said. "I think it really is overkill. The environment on Penn's campus is different than the city." Seamon also pointed out that Yale, Harvard and Rutgers universities' police forces have had no shootings and no accidental discharges since they have switched to semiautomatic weapons. Temple University is currently in the process of changing to semiautomatic weapons, Seamon added. He also refuted arguments that semiautomatics fire at a much faster rate than revolvers. The two types of guns actually fire at about the same rate, he said. Seamon said that semiautomatics are more accurate than revolvers and would reduce the likelihood of an innocent bystander getting hit in a gunfight. Citing Philadelphia crime statistics for 1994, he said that of 5,700 guns confiscated, more than 2,500 were semiautomatic handguns. One hundred and thirty confiscated guns were semiautomatic rifles, 32 were semiautomatic shotguns, one or two were fully automatic guns, and the others were either shotguns or revolvers. Gay said she thinks the community would react negatively to the police use of semiautomatic weapons. But Seamon said the Philadelphia Police, SEPTA Police and the Philadelphia Housing Authority Police already have semiautomatics. In the face of Seamon's statistics about the percentage of university police forces using semiautomatics, Gay said the University should "take the lead" and set a different course. But Penn Watch President and Wharton junior Jon Brightbill disagreed. "Let someone else take the lead and gamble with students' lives, but not Penn," he said. Brightbill added that many of the arguments presented against semiautomatic weapons were based on emotion, rather than fact. "I'm still waiting for someone to present a concrete argument why they should not have semiautomatic weapons," Brightbill said. Most of the approximately 15 participants at the meeting urged that continued debate must ensue before any decision can be made made. Microbiology Professor Helen Davies suggested that world-renowned Criminology Professor Marvin Wolfgang, Chief Trauma Surgeon William Schwab and some professors in the Law School be involved in the discussion. But Seamon disagreed. "Criminologists and lawyers are not experts in police operations and are not really qualified to discuss the matter," he said. Anesthesia Professor and Operating Room Director Sean Kennedy, who chairs the Safety and Security Committee, said he sees about two or three gunshot victims a week. "It's not terribly academic, it's a fact of life," he said.

Penn Watch aids in arrest of robber

(12/06/95 10:00am)

Taking their first bite out of crime, Penn Watch members Justin Faust and Doug Martin assisted University Police in an arrest Monday night. This is the first time the civilian student group was able to help police apprehend a criminal. At about 11:20 p.m. Monday, the two Wharton juniors, who have been members since the group's inception last year, spotted a suspicious man running down 40th Street near Spruce Street. Faust said that he and Martin began following the man, who was running at "breakneck speed" at first and then slowed to brisk pace, continually looking behind his shoulder. Once out of the Penn Watch members' sight, the suspect sped away in a car, Faust said. He and Martin, who were posted at 41st and Spruce streets, radioed their observation of a suspicious man to University Police. While the two were contacting officers, they were approached by two University students who said they had just been robbed, Faust added. The description of the robber given by the victims matched that of the suspicious man. A suspect robbed the two students at gunpoint of $102 and MAC cards, indicating to the students that he had a gun in his waistband and then demanded money. The weapon found on the man who was apprehended was determined to be a BB gun, University Police said. Within 30 seconds after the radio call was made, University Police arrived at the scene, according to Faust. With the suspect's description, University Police saw a man who matched it getting into a car and fleeing. University Police officer Al Sulpizio followed and eventually stopped the suspect's car at 56th and Spruce streets. Another male was also in the car. The victims positively identified the suspect and he was arrested and taken to Southwest Detectives. He admitted robbing the students of their money and MAC cards, which will be returned to the students. University Police were very grateful for the help from Penn Watch. "We would have never made the apprehension if it wasn't for Penn Watch," University Police Capt. John Richardson said. "They are the extensions of our eyes and ears -- the fact that they're out there helps us do our job that much more effectively." But the two people who were the most thankful for Penn Watch's assistance were the victims, College sophomores Michael Pinto and Mark McGrath. Pinto said that the volunteers did an excellent job and acted in a professional manner. "They took control of the situation and they were really calm and knew what to do," he said. "If it's just this one time they have helped, it's worth all the time and effort they put in." McGrath said that while he had been a bit skeptical of the effectiveness of Penn Watch before Monday's robbery, yesterday's events have changed his perception. "I didn't really think a couple of kids walking around could do much," McGrath said. "But because of them, they got the guy who did it. It's nice knowing that they're out there for everyone." Faust said being a part of Penn Watch's first real arrest was very exciting and epitomized why he has stuck with the group from the beginning. "I'm damn excited that Doug and I did this," he said. "This is what the whole thing was started for." Penn Watch President and College senior Jon Brightbill agreed. "This is a milestone," he said. "There has been a contingent of naysayers out there that say we're not doing any good. This demonstrates that there is certainly a role Penn students can play in helping the police and the community." Martin said Penn Watch has primarily dealt with reporting thefts from auto and other minor crimes. He added that Monday's arrest gave him a real sense of accomplishment. "You feel like you've been doing something when you've actually stopped a crime," he said. "This kind of reaffirmed for me that it's worthwhile." Victim Support and Special Services Director Maureen Rush has been one of the biggest supporters of Penn Watch and conducts the training sessions for the group. "It was a textbook example of the how the community and the police can work together to solve crime," she said. "What we want mostly to do is make the community appear to be a place where you don't want to commit a crime because they're enough eyes and ears looking at you." For Faust and Martin, it's all in a day's work. Next Monday they will be out around 41st and Spruce streets doing their job, flashlight and radio in hand. "We kind of have our territory now and we're proud to defend it," Martin said.

U. Police camptures shooting suspects

(12/05/95 10:00am)

Four apprehended in South Philadelphia University Police arrested four men Sunday night in connection with a South Philadelphia shooting at 15th and Tasker streets earlier that evening. The victim, who is unaffiliated with the University, was shot in the chest and was listed in serious condition at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital as of Sunday night. A radio description of the shooting alerted University Police that the suspects involved might be in the area. Officers Michael Sylvester and Len Harrison observed a vehicle traveling on 43rd and Walnut streets that matched the description of the suspects' car, according to University Police Sgt. Mike Fink. The officers stopped the suspects at 45th and Sansom streets. Philadelphia Police also arrived on the scene. Two men got out of the car and the other two suspects fled the area in the car, Fink said. The two men who emerged from the car were arrested by the police. The two suspects who fled were stopped at 44th and Chestnut streets by University Police officer Chris Kennedy. Two witnesses of the shooting positively identified the four suspects and the car as the same men and vehicle involved in the incident, Fink said. The suspects were transported to South Detectives in Philadelphia's 17th District. Fink said no weapons were recovered from the suspects' car. University Police Capt. John Richardson had nothing but praise for the University officers involved in the arrest, noting that the joint effort between University Police and Philadelphia Police was very successful. "There was good coordination between the two police departments and a good job by our police people because of our officers' vigilance and perseverance," Richardson said. Fink echoed Richardson's sentiments, saying that the arrest showed "excellent police work on the part of the officers involved." Richardson said the University Police suspected that the four men might be coming to the area because the suspects were described as Asian and the area has a large Asian population. In an unrelated incident occurring early Sunday morning, two men were shot and one was seriously injured in a shooting at the C.C. Club at 20 N. 40th St. No one involved in the shooting was affiliated with the University. The Philadelphia Police reported that the victims, ages 25 and 29, were shot while on the dance floor of the club, which is located one block north of Market Street on 40th Street. As of Sunday night, the 25-year-old victim was declared brain dead with a wound to the head and the other was shot in the arm and buttocks and listed in good condition. The 29-year-old victim said he heard "pops" while dancing. As he realized he had been shot, he collapsed on the other victim -- a friend of his. The Philadelphia Inquirer contributed to this article.

Trash truck crashes into Billybob's

(12/04/95 10:00am)

A truck plowed into Billybob's Saturday morning, damaging a wall of the restaurant at 40th and Spruce streets and leaving a mangled car in its wake. Although a few customers were in the restaurant at the time of the accident at about 7:30 a.m., no one was injured, according to University Police. The truck, which had been backed into the Allegro Pizza parking lot, first crushed a parked car on the 40th Street side of Billybob's. It then continued, charging into the wall the restaurant, according to Billybob's manager Jon Kelley. "The good thing about [the crash] was that nobody got hurt," he said. "I'm just glad that nobody was walking on the pavement. They would have been killed, no questions asked." An employee at AAA Recycling Corporation, the company whose truck ran into Billybob's, said in the police report that a pen got stuck under the gas pedal and the pedal stuck, causing the truck to crash into the restaurant. The employee said that the incident was a "freak" occurrence. He was relieved that a car had blocked the truck's path -- thereby protecting the two Billybob's customers eating on the other side of the wall. At the time of the crash, College senior Michael Lascher was eating breakfast at Billybob's, anxiously awaiting the Law School Admissions Test he would take later that day. "I was just sitting, eating an egg and cheese, and then all of the sudden a garbage truck came through the window," he said. Lascher said that the front end of the truck broke the glass of Billybob's window, causing a great scare to the five or six customers in the restaurant. "Everybody sitting near the windows was running around," he said. "It was pretty scary. You couldn't tell if the truck was going to stop." He said the window shattered completely, sending glass all over the place. "I didn't want to think of what could have happened to me if I was sitting by the window," Lascher added. Lascher described the parked car that was crushed as being "sandwiched" between the wall and the truck. Kelley said that the car was completely destroyed. "It's an accordion now," he said. The inside wall has been caved in and the broken window is boarded up on the outside of the restaurant. Five booths were removed where the truck crashed through the window, Kelley said. Although Kelley could not estimate the cost of repairs to Billybob's, he said that "it was a nice amount of damage." "I was kind of shocked when I came around the corner [and saw the damage]," he said. Kelley added that a repair company will estimate the cost of the destruction today. He speculated that it would take a few weeks to repair the damage. Lascher said that the incident had no adverse effect on his ability to take the test on Saturday.

Women's track lockers trashed

(12/01/95 10:00am)

When the members of the women's track team returned after Thanksgiving break, they were greeted with a ransacked locker room. The room, in the Munger Athletic Complex of Franklin Field, was burglarized Saturday night at about 1:35 a.m. More than 80 percent of the lockers were vandalized, women's track coach Betty Costanza said. She said the doors to the locker room were also damaged. In addition, some equipment and personal items were stolen, including dress uniforms and shoes. Costanza said she has been in contact with the University's Risk Management office to try to estimate the extent of the damages. College senior Melanie Gesker, captain of the cross country team, said the burglars were probably looking for money and electronic equipment. But Athletics Supportive Services Director Larry Lauchle guessed that the burglars were just looking for cash. "It's a step down from just pure vandalism," he said. Costanza said that although the burglary has inconvenienced women's track, the incident did not affect the team's morale. "Nobody likes to see anything like this happen," Costanza said. "I was upset. It's a hard thing to come back from vacation and find your locker room in disarray." Costanza said that the Athletic Facilities Department has acted very quickly in making temporary repairs to the lockers until they can be permanently replaced. The damaged lockers will be replaced with combination lockers, which are much tougher to break into, Lauchle said. These replacements will be of the same model locker that is used in the Hutchinson Gymnasium. A locker company will be coming to campus today to determine the cost of the replacing the lockers, Lauchle added. Athletic Department officials plan to replace all the damaged doors and are considering installing an alarm system, Costanza said. Lauchle said he had a meeting Wednesday with Director of Security and Public Safety Chris Algard to discuss future security measures for the Munger Complex. He added that an alarm system is one of the main considerations. Gesker said that she was shocked when she first saw the damage upon entering the locker room. "I think people were just upset," Gesker said. "People were worried about the security of the room."

Three suspects hold up student

(11/29/95 10:00am)

One was found with $12,000 of cocaine and Brett Levinson Three men were arrested on suspicion of robbing a male Penn student at gunpoint at 4015 Baltimore Ave. at about 7:10 p.m. last night. One of the suspects was carrying a loaded .380 Lancir semiautomatic handgun and 130 grams of crack cocaine with a street value of $12,000, University Police Capt. John Richardson said. According to University Police Sgt. Mike Fink, the three men robbed the student of a black leather jacket and an undisclosed amount of cash. The victim could not positively identify the suspects, Fink added. The jacket and the money were recovered by police. The jacket was found on the ground near where it was taken. The victim claimed that three men approached him in front of his residence on Baltimore Avenue, Fink said. Through his jacket, one suspect pointed what appeared to be a weapon at the victim, he said. After the student was robbed, he flagged down a University Escort van. The driver notified University Police of the incident by radio. University Police officer Frederick Ricelli apprehended three men matching the suspects' description. Two were seen running out from behind an apartment complex at 4045 Baltimore Ave., and Ricelli located the third suspect across the street. Approximately 10 University and Philadelphia police officers responded to the scene. One suspect was arrested on narcotics and weapons possession charges, Fink said. The other two men will be held for questioning. According to police, the narcotics and the firearm were taken to the Philadelphia Administrative Building in Center City for ballistics and chemical analyses. Two men fitting the suspects' description also robbed a male student at knifepoint at 40th and Chestnut streets at about 10:30 p.m. Monday, according to University Police. One suspect was described as bald, and the other had a foreign accent. The two suspects took $40 and a MAC card from the student and fled east on Chestnut Street. In an unrelated incident, two men held up a SEPTA Route 13 trolley at gunpoint at 33rd and Market streets at 4:45 a.m. yesterday, according to Richardson. The suspects robbed both the passengers and the driver of the vehicle. Later in the morning, two men were arrested for a similar incident at a trolley at 50th and Locust streets. Police recovered a BB gun from one of the suspects. University Police speculate that the incident may be a reaction to the recently released movie The Money Train, starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. University Police officials said they have stepped up efforts to check subway platforms and elevated trains in the University City area. "We want to allay the fears of the campus community who ride the subway, and the trolley lines," Richardson said. Law enforcement officials have speculated that a scene in The Money Train may have led to the torching of a token booth in the New York City subway on Sunday.

Ex-officer to stand trial for beating

(11/22/95 10:00am)

Judge says evidence at hearing is enough to warrant court case Former University Police officer Thomas McDade will have to stand trial for the alleged beating of Drexel University alumnus Gregory Peifer, Senior Municipal Court Judge Lynwood Blount ruled yesterday in a preliminary hearing. McDade was charged with felony aggravated assault October 11 and also fired from the University Police force the same day for the alleged beating of Peifer near FUBAR on September 16. McDade also faces charges of recklessly endangering another person. The preliminary hearing was originally scheduled for October 17, but was postponed because Peifer failed to attend the hearing. Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Ogren and McDade's criminal defense attorney, Joel Trigiani, each had about five minutes to present their cases. Peifer testified that McDade punched and kicked him while he was on the ground, breaking his jaw and inflicting a cut on his eye after he attempted to leave FUBAR through a side door. Trigiani cross-examined Peifer, but was warned by Blount on a few different occasions to keep his questions relevant to the preliminary hearing. Blount also sustained several objections to Trigiani's line of questioning. "This is not a trial," Blount said. "We're not going to try this case [today]." After the cross-examination, the defense attorney called University Police officer Phil Lyndon to testify as a witness to the scene. Lyndon testified that he was outside of FUBAR on the night of September 16, along with officer Frederick Ricelli and McDade and did not see McDade strike anyone. Lyndon also testified that after Peifer was pushed out the door by the FUBAR bouncers, he saw Peifer charge at McDade, punching him in the side of the head and knocking his glasses off. Blount ruled that McDade must stand for trial based on the prima facie evidence presented at the hearing, scheduling McDade's arraignment for December 12 at the Criminal Justice Center. Ogren said he was not surprised that the case was held for court. "At the preliminary hearing stage, all the Commonwealth has to prove is that the defendant more likely than not committed the charged crimes," he explained. Dave Ball, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 113, said although he is disappointed by the outcome of yesterday's proceeding, he is confident that McDade will be found not guilty in the trial. "When the case is tried completely and all the facts come out, McDade will be exonerated completely," Ball said. Several University Police officers, Penn students and friends of McDade came to yesterday's hearing in support of the officer. McDade, along with officer Antonio Serrano, was allegedly involved in the beating of two homeless men while the officers were uniformed and on duty on September 16 between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., according to Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon. Seamon said in October that the homeless men claimed McDade and Serrano picked them up separately and transported them to the Civic Center in a police van. The men alleged they were beaten by the officers behind the building. Serrano was fired after a pre-disciplinary hearing with University Police Chief George Clisby. Ricelli was suspended without pay for 10 days following a hearing with Clisby, for his alleged involvement in the FUBAR incident.

Seamon repudiates officers' allegations

(11/17/95 10:00am)

Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon disputed allegations yesterday that University Police Chief George Clisby and other public safety officials prevented officers from testifying in court cases. He said the allegations were based on a miscommunication between the Fraternal Order of Police and management. And in order to get a better handle on the situation, Seamon has agreed to meet with FOP officials. Former University Police officer Mary Terry, who was recently fired from the force, testified Wednesday in Philadelphia Municipal Court that she was told by her supervisors to not continue with the prosecution of College sophomore Scott Schuman, according to Assistant District Attorney Clarence Dupree. Schuman was accused of assaulting Terry last April during Spring Fling. He was acquitted in the case. Officer Peggy O'Malley, chief shop steward of the University's FOP, said Wednesday night that the union has a class-action grievance currently pending against the police department for interfering with officers' abilities to appear in court. She said last night that she has agreed to meet with Seamon "to address the situation and to share a little history on the subject with him." Seamon said the management of the police force has a right to ask the district attorney's office to subpoena only those officers whose testimony is absolutely necessary. But he added that it is up to the discretion of the district attorney's office to decide who to subpoena. One police officer, who wished to remain nameless, said Wednesday that the department has a financial incentive to keep officers out of control. The officer said union rules specify that every officer who takes time to testify in court must be paid for at least four hours of work -- even if they spend only minutes at the trial. Seamon said that in the Philadelphia Police Department, where he was second-in-command before coming to the University, it was not uncommon for officers to want to testify in order to receive overtime pay. Terry said that if police officers do not get a chance to testify in court, public safety could be compromised because criminals might be set free due to dropped charges. "My personal concern is that the new process regarding court appearances has interfered with a police officer doing their job," Terry said.

Chief accused of blocking U. officers from testifying

(11/16/95 10:00am)

and Jeremy Kahn Current and former University Police officers said yesterday Police Chief George Clisby and other public safety officials routinely attempt to prevent officers from testifying in court cases. Former Police officer Mary Terry, who was recently fired from the force, testified in Philadelphia Municipal Court yesterday that Clisby ordered her not to appear in court several times over the last four months. Terry, who said she refused to follow Clisby's order, was testifying in the trial of Scott Schuman, the College sophomore who was charged with hitting Terry in the jaw last April. Schuman was acquitted in the case. Officer Peggy O'Malley, chief shop steward of the University local of the Fraternal Order of Police, said last night the union has a class-action grievance currently pending against the department for interfering with officers' ability to appear in court. Thomas Seamon, managing director of Public Safety, said he had no knowledge of any FOP grievance or Terry's allegations and denied there was any departmental interference with officers' testimony in court cases. But Terry said in a telephone interview last night that she filed a formal grievance against Clisby alleging that he tried to keep her from testifying in Schuman's trial. The grievance was upheld by an arbitrator. And Terry said she knows several other police officers who have also had difficulty with either delayed or lost subpoenas -- a claim O'Malley confirmed. According to University Police policy, all subpoenas for University Police officers are delivered to Clisby's office and then distributed to the sergeants, who are responsible for giving them to the officer being asked to testify. Seamon said all subpoenas are given to officers quickly. "It is in our best interest as a law enforcement agency and as a matter of law that people get duly processed subpoenas in a timely manner," he said. But one police officer said last night that the department had a financial incentive to keep officers out of court. The officer said union rules specify that every officer who takes time to testify in court must be paid for at least four hours of work, even if they spend only minutes at the trial. "The main thing is the fact that they don't want to pay the officers overtime," the officer said. Seamon called such accusations "nonsense." "If an officer makes an arrest, we want the officer to pursue that in court," he said. "Money is not an issue at all regarding the administration of justice at the University." Terry cited several examples of ways in which police administrators have made it more difficult for officers to get their subpoenas. For instance, she said the department used to keep all the subpoenas in a book that was readily accessible to officers so they could check for upcoming court dates. But, according to Terry, Clisby told officers in January they could no longer look at the book, which he had removed. Clisby is currently on vacation and could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Student acquitted of assaulting former officer

(11/16/95 10:00am)

and Jeremy Kahn A Philadelphia Municipal Court judge found College sophomore Scott Schuman not guilty yesterday of assaulting former University Police Officer Mary Terry. Schuman was initially charged with the felony of aggravated assault after allegedly striking Terry in the jaw during a drunken altercation with a Quadrangle residential advisor on the eve of Spring Fling in April. The charge was later dropped and replaced with the three misdemeanor charges of simple assault, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest. College senior Christopher Robbins, who was the RA on duty for Community House in the Quad April 21, testified yesterday that he saw Schuman entering the Quad carrying a six-pack of beer. Robbins said he attempted to cite Schuman, who was underage, for the violation but that Schuman refused to surrender his PennCard. Following a brief altercation, Robbins called University Police. Terry testified that she responded to the call and that Schuman also refused to give her his identification. In the ensuing argument, Terry testified that Schuman punched her in the jaw. Also while on the stand, Terry -- who was recently fired from the police force -- accused University Police Chief George Clisby of attempting to quash a subpoena by ordering her not to testify in the case. Terry said Clisby asked her to drop the charges against Schuman several times, but that she refused. Clisby is on vacation and could not be reached for comment. Schuman testified that he never struck Terry and claimed he was arrested without cause, spending the next day locked in a holding cell at Southwest Detectives awaiting arraignment. Five character witnesses, including Assistant Vice Provost for University Life Barbara Cassel, Schuman's parents and his former Quadrangle RA Lauren Slawe testified that Schuman was an upstanding member of the community who had never been in trouble before or since his arrest. Municipal Judge Martin Bashoff later cited the strength of these character witnesses in his decision to acquit Schuman. Schuman said last night that he was happy to be acquitted, but was still bitter about spending Spring Fling in jail. He said his case should have been handled internally by the University, not by the courts.

State inquiry into college finances stalls

(11/14/95 10:00am)

Since the beginning of this year, the Pennsylvania Legislature has been holding a series of hearings aimed at studying the way state-owned and state-funded universities across Pennsylvania -- including the University -- spend their state aid. State Representative John Lawless (R-Montgomery County) has severely criticized some of the University's use of funds. Last week, the State System of Higher Education, which oversees 14 state-owned universities, pulled out of the hearings, citing Lawless as the main factor. The hearings are being held by the House Select Committee on Higher Education and Lawless is the chairperson of the committee. Administrators at the University and throughout the state have criticized Lawless for his abrasiveness. Some state representatives have also strongly condemned Lawless. State Representative Ron Cowell, the Democratic co-chairperson of the House Education Committee, said the State System of Higher Education's decision to boycott the hearings was well justified. "I think that the hearing has become an embarrassment to the legislature," he said. "I think the higher education community would be justified in choosing to shun the committee and the escapades of the chairman." Cowell added that he believes Lawless' committee should be abandoned because it does a disservice to legitimate efforts to pursue accountability in higher education. And Cowell was especially critical of Lawless' strong-handed tactics. "I think it's not very professional to show up at a university and demand access to records," he said. Lawless grilled University President Judith Rodin and other University officials at a budget hearing in the spring about the number of hours professors spend teaching and money spent on travel and sabbaticals. Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Carol Scheman said she respects the state officials' right to inquire about non-profit institutions, but has been wary of what Lawless is looking for in his questions. "Some of his questions have been both time consuming and difficult to answer and hard to see where he is heading," she said. Scheman added that she has maintained from the beginning that the University is a private institution and is not specifically subject to his questioning. Some of Lawless's main criticisms include state support for sabbaticals, travel expenses and tuition discounts for children of college employees. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

U. Police may arm officers with semiautos

(11/08/95 10:00am)

Temple University in North Philadelphia is the most recent addition to a steadily growing number of urban universities across the nation arming their police officers with semiautomatic weapons. And Penn Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon said he is seriously considering bringing semiautomatic weapons to the University Police department. "It's something that might have been controversial 10 years ago, but it's now the standard throughout the country," he said, adding that in order to keep with national trends, the University has no choice but to upgrade. But Seamon added that he does not have a definitive timetable of when the guns may be brought to the University. "It's not something that must be done by the end of this month, but it's something that I'm seriously considering," he explained. University Fraternal Order of Police Local President Dave Ball agreed that semiautomatic weapons are necessary in West Philadelphia. He added the new weapons could boost officers' morale. Ball explained that the newer guns are much more accurate than the .38-caliber revolvers that are in use today. "Mostly everyone, including the criminals, are using semiautomatic weapons," Ball said. One of the main reasons for upgrading the currently used revolvers is that most police academy training now involves the use of the semiautomatic weapons, Seamon said. He added that it is becoming very difficult to find police training programs that teach officers how to use revolvers. Seamon is currently analyzing which brand of semiautomatic gun the University should buy and is also looking at cost considerations. But most importantly, the safety of the officers need to be considered, Seamon said. Victim Support Director Maureen Rush, who was once a sergeant in a narcotics strike force in one of the most dangerous areas of Philadelphia, is a strong supporter of semiautomatic weapons. She said that almost everyone being arrested had an semiautomatic with a capacity to hold 18 bullets. At times, she said, she has felt "outgunned." "It seemed kind of odd that I was walking around with six [rounds] and they had 18 [rounds]," she said. "It enhances the feeling for officers' safety, both in perception and actuality." By the end of next semester, Temple University Police officers will have switched to semiautomatic weapons, according to Howard Lebofsky, executive assistant for Police and Security Services at Temple. Lebofsky said Temple's main motivation for the upgrade is that the department has had mechanical problems with revolvers. He added that older weapons become costly due to maintenance, while semiautomatic weapons require little upkeep. In the last few years, Yale University and Harvard University police forces have both moved to semiautomatic weapons.

Police will deter tearing down of goal posts at Homecoming

(11/03/95 10:00am)

In the last two years, the Franklin Field goal posts have been torn down and thrown into the Schuylkill River three times after big Quaker football victories. And last November, five students and two University Police officers were seriously injured after the 33-0 Quaker victory over Harvard, which clinched sole possession of the Ivy League title to Penn. The injuries ranged from broken bones to concussions, University Police Chief George Clisby said. So in light of tomorrow's Homecoming game against Penn's arch-rival, Princeton, University Police is hoping to put a stop to this increasingly dangerous trend. Clisby said there will be a few more police officers on hand at the game this year. He also said students who attempt to take down the goal posts after the game could be arrested. "As a last resort, police will make every effort to identify through athletic film and other methods any violators of University policies and regulations as well as criminal laws," he said. "We will arrest people on the spot -- we will not permit spectators to take down the goal posts because of the risk of serious injury and the absorbing cost of vandalism," Clisby added. Athletic Director Steve Bilsky said the measures being taken are not aimed at curtailing school spirit. "Nobody's trying to quell the enthusiasm or the celebration," he said. Clisby agreed with Bilsky, saying that the police take "great pride" in the football team and hope to have as non-intrusive a presence as possible. The Public Safety, Risk Management and Athletic departments met last year to determine if there was any way of making the goal post removal safer in order to eliminate the possibility of injury, Bilsky said. But removing or replacing the goal posts after the game was not an option. "The problem is that they are cemented into the field itself," he said. "It takes a good 20 minutes back and forth to dislodge it." Bilsky added that money was not really an issue in the decision. "If it would have cost money we would have done it," he said. Bilsky also said that Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon has recently met with several individuals in the Athletic Department to address safety at the football games. "I think his concern is injuries," he said. "I don't think he's trying to make any statement beyond that. There's no safe way to one, tear down the goal posts and two, bring them out of the stadium." University Police will also stand alongside Spectaguards at the entrance gates to Franklin Field in order to stop individuals from bringing in bottles and cans. In addition, several public service announcements will be read over the public address system telling students to "celebrate responsibly" and "refrain from entering the field." Clisby said he highly discourages students from taking down the goalposts. "The traditional way of taking down goal posts is not considered by the University community to be the appropriate way of celebrating," he added. Violators will be referred to the "appropriate University entity" to face the consequences of their actions, Clisby said. Associate Athletic Director Dennis Elton Cochran-Fikes said last year that he estimated the cost of a replacement goal post to be between $10,000 and $20,000.

LCE renews Murph's liquor license

(11/02/95 10:00am)

Murphy's Tavern has been a fixture at Penn for 35 years. And it looks like it just might see its 36th birthday, since its liquor license has been renewed until October 31, 1996. Murph's, located at 44th and Spruce streets, has been in danger of being shut down since the Pennsylvania State Liquor Enforcement Board officers issued multiple citations last year to the establishment for underaged drinking. Murph's had been operating since last November under temporary authority from the Liquor Control Board. But now the popular student and neighborhood hangout can look forward to at least one more Homecoming and one more New Year's Eve. Last October, the annual renewal of the bar's liquor license was suspended because of allegations that owners Joseph and Jim Murphy abused their licensing privileges. In late January, citations were issued to 63 underage drinkers. In March, Jim Murphy and six others speaking on behalf of Murph's testified in front of the LCE. Joe P. Ryan, the attorney representing the Murphy's, said he was enthusiastic about the license renewal. "I was happy that a long-standing establishment on campus was able to save their business," Ryan said. He added that the liquor board must have conceded that it is tough to keep underage drinking out of college campuses. But Ryan said Murphy's was not unfairly targeted by the board. "The board gave the licensee an opportunity to explain extenuating circumstances," he said. Murphy's has received nine citations since its license was issued in 1960, each charging it with the sale of alcohol to minors, according to Bettina Bunting, an LCE officer. Graduate School of Education employee Billie Meeks, who testified in March on behalf of Murph's, said she was pleased to hear the news. "I'm happy that they got their license renewed," Meeks said. "I think any college bar is really going to be susceptible to frequent appearances from the [Liquor Control Board]." At the hearing in March, Jim Murphy testified that he has become more vigilant about underage drinking during the past year. He said he fired a bartender and a waitress promptly after the January incident. LCE officers issued 32 citations to underage drinkers at various campus bars during an April 21 raid. Minors at the Palladium, the Blarney Stone, Cavanaugh's Restaurant, and Walsh's Tavern received citations. Joseph Murphy refused to comment on the issue last night.

Suspect arrested for car break-ins

(10/25/95 9:00am)

Twelve more cars vandalized and Brett Levinson Undercover University Police officers apprehended a male suspect breaking into several vehicles in the University parking garage at 38th and Spruce streets at about 9:20 p.m. last night. Between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m. yesterday, police found 12 more cars with smashed windows. In the past two weeks, a total of 35 cars have been broken into at the parking garage at 38th and Spruce streets. University Police Sgt. Tom Rambo speculated that the apprehended suspect might be singularly responsible for the break-ins. In a related incident yesterday, three juveniles were arrested near the parking garage at 38th and Spruce streets at about noon after attempting to break into a vehicle parked on the street, University Police Chief George Clisby said. A cellular phone was recovered from one of the juveniles, who were later transported to Southwest Detectives. And eight additional cars parked on the street were broken into yesterday. The arrests yesterday come on the heels of stepped-up police patrols to combat the recent rash of automobile vandalism. Rambo said valuables had been taken from the cars last night, but declined to further comment on specifics since an investigation is ongoing. The male suspect apprehended last night was transported to Southwest Detectives for booking. University detectives discovered a broken spark plug and an electronic garage passcard on the suspect. Spark plugs are used by criminals to smash car windows because they are constructed of hard porcelain and are easy to conceal. According to Rambo, the spark plug is thrown into the window to gain entry. While conducting a surveillance of the garage, plain clothes police officers noticed a suspicious person on the third floor and apprehended him. At least seven officers were on the scene. Uniformed police officers surrounded all garage exits to block any possible means of escape, Rambo said. Clisby said that dealing with the dramatic increase in car break-ins is a "top priority." He added that he has asked Philadelphia Police officers from the 18th District to assist in a heightened effort to patrol the streets. Clisby said University Police is now routinely checking the parking garages at least once an hour. And Allied Security guards are also patrolling the garages more frequently, Seamon said. He also said that bike and foot patrols seem to be the most effective way to combat the rash in break-ins. "We are committed to solving the problem," Clisby said. "Officers want to see an end to it." After analyzing the problem statistically, the lots rented out on a long-term basis were found to be targeted the most, Clisby said. Four lots have been singled out as the ones hit the most, he added. The University-owned parking garages at 38th and Spruce streets, 34th and Chestnut streets, 32nd and Walnut streets and Convention Avenue and South streets will receive extra patrolling. In addition to this measure, police have conducted outreach programs at these lots. Public Safety officials are also handing out flyers to individuals parking in the garages, urging them to secure possessions and answering general questions. Clisby suggested that vehicles parked in the long-term garages be periodically checked for damages. Doing this will also increase the traffic in the garage and hopefully deter criminals from entering, he said. Clisby said University Police, Transportation and Parking and Allied Security officials are looking to high-tech methods of fighting crime. Closed-circuit televisions and other forms of electronic security are being considered.

19 cars vandalized

(10/23/95 9:00am)

Thefts reported all over campus Continuing the recent trend of car thefts near campus, 19 cars were broken into between 3 p.m. Friday and 11 p.m. Sunday. University Police Sergeant Keith Christian said that in nine of the break-ins, cellular phones were taken. Other items taken ranged from a laptop computer to minimal amounts of cash. Most of the items taken were left in plain view, Christian added. Christian said he could not speculate as to why so many cars were broken into this weekend, and would not say whether Family Weekend played any role. Many more cars than usual were on campus during the weekend due to Family Weekend. And University Lot 5 -- located right behind Franklin Field -- was the site of several of the weekend's break-ins. The Penn-Brown football game took place at Franklin Field Saturday afternoon. Although this weekend's car thefts occurred all across campus, University parking garages have been the primary target in past weeks. Last week, a total of 21 vehicles were broken into at the University-owned parking garage at 38th and Spruce streets, with nine incidents reported on a single day. And according to Parking Services Manager Anthony Bozzuto, Transportation and Parking Services is working with the Department of Public Safety to try to decrease the incidence of the break-ins. "We are very concerned and we're going to do our our best," Bozzuto said. "We've been banging our heads together trying to come up with a solid attack plan." Public Safety Security Director Chris Algard said the University is looking into putting electronic surveillance devices in the garages and possibly adding more security personnel. Bozzuto said the parking garage at 34th and Chestnut streets, which has been hit with a rash of break-ins, has had new screening put in the last two weeks. The new screening should deter perpetrators who climbed into the garage, Bozzuto said, adding that the lower screening has been reinforced with steel piping. The University parking garage located on Civic Center Boulevard has also been reinforced with steel. And the doors at the garages at 32nd and Walnut streets and 38th and Spruce streets have been repaired. Bozzuto is also examining the possibility of decreasing the time doors remain open in the parking garages. Bozzuto added that the University is doing all it can to improve the security of the parking garages, and that customers themselves must take a role in improving security. He explained that customers often leave their valuables in plain sight, luring potential thieves. He also said that customers must not be afraid to report to the police suspicious individuals in the parking garages. Bozzuto said he believes the culprits in the break-ins are probably people with drug problems looking for whatever they can sell. In some instances, thieves break in the vehicles solely to steal coins lying in plain view.

Police officer dismissed for alleged assault

(10/12/95 9:00am)

McDade charged for role in beating University Police Officer Thomas McDade was formally charged with aggravated assault yesterday morning for the alleged beating of Drexel University alumnus Gregory Peifer in front of FUBAR on September 16, according to Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon. McDade was also fired from the police force yesterday, Seamon said. McDade surrendered himself to Southwest Detectives at 55th and Pine streets Tuesday night. He was arraigned yesterday morning at Philadelphia Police Headquarters at 8th and Race streets, Seamon said. The officer posted bail and will return to the 18th District courtroom in the Southwest Detectives building for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, according to Philadelphia Police Sgt. Joe Dougherty. Officer Frederick Ricelli was also allegedly involved in the FUBAR incident. Seamon said Tuesday that a third party who witnessed the scene said Ricelli pushed Drexel alumnus Todd Weitzman and hit him with a flashlight to prevent him from coming to Peifer's aid. Seamon would not identify the witness. McDade, along with officer Antonio Serrano, was also allegedly involved in the beating of two homeless men -- while the officers were uniformed and on-duty -- on September 16 between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., Seamon said. Seamon said the homeless men claim McDade and Serrano picked them up separately and transported them to the Civic Center in a police van. The men allege they were beaten by officers behind the building. Serrano and Ricelli have been suspended with pay for their alleged involvement in the two unrelated incidents, Seamon added. Serrano and Ricelli had a pre-disciplinary hearing in front of University Police Chief George Clisby yesterday to determine whether their jobs will be terminated. Clisby said that he will take the matter under advisement and notify the police officers in writing of his decision. Clisby's decision is expected shortly, police officials said. University President Judith Rodin condemned the alleged actions of the officers at yesterday's University Council meeting. But she added that the three officers do not represent the majority of the department. "I have the strong belief that these were rogue officers," she said. "We have a strong police force that is deeply committed to their responsibilities." The morale of the University Police force has been dampened by the officers' misconduct, Seamon said. "I think [other officers] are saddened by the fact that several of their fellow officers have engaged in misconduct," he said. "[But] they are carrying on as professionals as they do everyday." Victim Support and Special Services Director Maureen Rush said she also noticed that officers seemed upset. "No one likes to see this kind of event occur in any department and it saddens many people to know that something like this happened," she said. "The greater majority of police officers do a great job under very adverse circumstances in society today. "The hardest thing for police officers, when there is a scandal in any department, is not knowing how the public is perceiving them personally," she added.

Police track speed of cars on Walnut Street

(10/11/95 9:00am)

Staring down Walnut Street at oncoming cars with his radar gun in hand, University Police officer Marvin Jones is working to make campus a safer place for pedestrians. Jones shoots his radar gun at cars traveling over the Walnut Street bridge, and a screen the size of a television set sits atop a University Police car displaying the speed of the cars. The new device is not being used to issue speeding tickets, but to make people aware of how fast they are traveling on Walnut street, according to Victim Support and Special Services Director Maureen Rush. Since several students were seriously injured at 33rd and Walnut streets last year, officials from the city, the University and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation have been looking for permanent solutions to what seemed to be an ongoing safety hazard. The radar tracking is part of a multi-faceted safety improvement plan. The radar experiment will last for the next several weeks and is being conducted for one hour each day, Rush said. But in the long run, she said additional speed limit signs will be added and international signage will be put up at dangerous intersections, warning pedestrians to look before they cross. The state is also planning to put up signs warning motorists of the pedestrian crosswalk ahead. If drivers fail to yield to pedestrians, University and Philadelphia Police officers will issue tickets to the offenders, Rush said. Another part of the plan calls for the far left lane between 32nd and 33rd streets to be made into a "left turn only" lane. Police said they have clocked cars going as fast as 65 and 70 miles per hour. The average speed is around 50 m.p.h. -- 10 to 15 m.p.h. faster than the posted speed limit of 35 m.p.h. Officers on the scene said that once motorists escape from downtown congestion, "the pedal goes down" when they see the open road. Before 9 a.m., cars seem to travel the fastest. But in general, cars slow down when they see a police officer holding the radar gun. An educational component is also included in the long term safety plan. New employees and new students will be informed of the danger surrounding certain intersections. Rush added that students should always be cautious at all intersections and avoid jaywalking.

Students scared by intruder

(10/10/95 9:00am)

An intruder jumped over the turnstile at the Quadrangle entrance and awoke two students living on the fourth floor of Community House early yesterday morning, according to College freshman Jasson Cohen, a fourth-floor Community House resident. Cohen said he awoke at 6 a.m. yesterday when he heard a tapping on his door. Figuring that it was one of his friends, Cohen told the individual to come into his room. But Cohen was not expecting the person who walked in. "This random guy comes in, sounding like he was drunk and really acting strange," Cohen said. He said that the man, who claimed he was a senior at the University, told him that people "down front" were looking for him and he "needed a place to hang out for a couple of hours." Cohen described the stranger as a 5'8'' to 5'10'' caucasian male, 150 to 170 pounds, wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans. He added that the unknown male sounded as if he had a phony Irish accent. "He said he liked the Crash Hall Dancers and they were a great band," Cohen said. He advised the man that there was a study hall down hall where he could stay for a couple of hours. The intruder left and Cohen went back to bed for about 15 minutes, until he realized that what he had witnessed was really odd. The man was still roaming the hall -- now bothering Cohen's neighbor, Wharton freshman Jill Sheehan. Sheehan said that she too was awakened by the stranger, who told her that he and his friend had sneaked into the Quad because they were partying and did not want to stop. When Sheehan asked where the alleged student's friend was, he told her that his friend was being chased by security guards. "I was scared," she said. "This really strange drunk man was in my room." Sheehan added that the man claimed he was a senior named Mark and his friend was also a senior named Alex, but she could not remember the last names he had told her. The man remained in her room for 20 minutes, refusing to leave, she said. But when the stranger finally decided to go and Sheehan went back to sleep, she did not really understand exactly what had just transpired. She added that her half-awake state made the situation very bizarre. "I did not think I was really aware that there was this drunk person in my room," Sheehan said. "It was kind of crazy." Cohen decided to wake up his residential advisor and report the bizarre occurrence. The RA called the Quad desk and explained the situation, at which point he was informed that someone had jumped over the turnstile and that University Police had been notified. But when the RA called University Police to find out if they had received the call, the operator said the police had not been notified. "I think if someone jumped over the turnstile, they should have contacted the police or someone should have gone and looked for him," Cohen said. "It's not something that you expect -- you take it for granted that if you're in the Quad, you're in a secure area."