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Heist of roses sours Valentine's Day for CSA

(02/18/97 10:00am)

Call it the Valentine's Day Rose Massacre. Shortly before 11 a.m. Friday morning, 75 roses -- destined for special delivery by the Chinese Students Association -- were stolen from High Rise South's 12th floor lounge. "It's really, really disappointing to know someone would do something like that," said CSA President Jennifer Wong. The Wharton junior explained that CSA conducts an annual fundraising campaign in which the organization sells roses in advance on Locust Walk, then wraps and delivers them for free on Valentine's Day. Approximately 20 group members began to work in the lounge at 10 a.m. Friday, cutting, wrapping, decorating and attaching greeting cards to the roses. But soon after beginning work, members left the flowers alone for a few minutes. "We had the roses out in the lounge ? and basically at that point there was so much commotion" that group members did not keep an eye on the flowers, Wong said. She added that the roses were left unattended "not more than five minutes." Wong said the group had to fill orders for approximately 500 roses on Friday and had purchased the 75 flowers from a wholesaler for $150, or $2 apiece. CSA charged $25 for a dozen roses or $3.50 for each individual rose. The group "had quite a few dozens [of roses] to sell," Wong said, adding that the group purchased replacement flowers after the theft. She said she was "appalled" at the theft and could not fathom such an incident happening in the high rises. When told last night about the theft, Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum called the incident "awful" and "tragic" and labeled the individual who stole the roses as a "creep." "How could someone, on a day where people are supposed to love and respect each other, do something so terrible?" she said. McCoullum added that the CSA performs many volunteer and service activities throughout the community and did not deserve to be victimized in such a fashion. "It is particularly unfortunate that an organization that has given so much ended up being the victim that day," she said. Despite the tough luck, Wong said CSA plans to sell roses again next year for Valentine's Day, but added that the group "will be a lot more careful." McCoullum suggested that a University student may have committed the crime. Looking at the broad picture beyond the specifics of the rose theft, she noted that the incident hits home for anyone living in the high rises. "We need to work even harder -- students, faculty and staff together -- at creating a respectful community that values and appreciates everyone in the community," she said.

Man jumps off Chestnut bridge

(02/18/97 10:00am)

A man jumped off the Chestnut Street bridge into the Schuylkill River Thursday night, and was on life support at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania as of early Friday morning. University Police Capt. John Richardson described the individual -- who was not carrying any identification -- as a balding, 5-foot, 8-inch tall white man, between 40 to 45 years old with a medium build and a mustache. He added that the man was not affiliated with the University "as far as we know." HUP spokesperson Katherine Hankins said she did not know the man's current condition, explaining that without knowing his name she could not track a specific patient. The Philadelphia Fire Department's Heavy Rescue unit pulled the man from the water at approximately 11:45 p.m. and transported him to HUP, police said. An employee in the 30th Street Post Office witnessed the man jump into the river shortly before 11:30 p.m., and then ran inside to call police. Philadelphia Police officers were first to arrive on the scene, followed shortly by University Police officers who heard reports of the incident via city police radio communications. In an unrelated incident at approximately 12:10 a.m. Friday, several Philadelphia and University Police officers reported hearing gunshots on 40th Street between Chestnut and Market streets. No injuries were reported. Bystanders at the scene said the shots came from a white van. Richardson said police discovered two shell casings -- which appeared to have been fired from a nine-millimeter handgun -- at the scene. Police have made no arrests. The shots were heard as far away as 40th and Locust streets, police said. University Police and the city's Southwest Detectives Bureau are investigating the incident.

Gunmen rob 10 people at American Diner

(02/17/97 10:00am)

City and Penn police apprehended four suspects shortly after the incident Saturday night. Two University students were among those robbed. Four men robbed 10 people -- including two University students -- at gunpoint inside the American Diner at 42nd and Chestnut streets late Saturday night, police said. No injuries were reported. Philadelphia and University Police officers apprehended the suspects minutes after the robbery, according to University Police Sgt. Thomas Rambo. Rambo explained that at approximately 11:57 p.m., plainclothes officers from the Philadelphia Police Department's Burglary Detail Team observed a gray Nissan Maxima speeding south on 40th Street. As the officers began to investigate the vehicle, they heard a radio broadcast report that the diner had just been robbed, Rambo said. University Police officers joined in the chase, in which the car sped west on Walnut Street and turned left at 44th Street before crashing into a car at 44th and Spruce streets. Police arrested three suspects on the scene and another at 43rd and Locust streets after a two-block pursuit on foot. None of the officers or suspects was injured in the incident, and the woman whose car was hit at 44th and Spruce streets while stopped at a red light also escaped unhurt. The suspects -- Abdul Brown, Rasheed Scruggs, Bryheem Bell and Michael Wilson -- were arrested and charged with robbery and related offenses. They are currently in police custody at the Philadelphia Police Department's 18th District headquarters at 55th and Pine streets, Rambo said. Rambo added that the suspects had been driving a stolen vehicle. Riaz Ahmed, the manager on duty at the diner during the robbery, said 10 people were in the facility at the time -- himself, five customers and four employees. Ahmed said he greeted the three men as they entered the restaurant. Two of them sat down, asked to see a menu and even ordered food while the third waited by the door. Ahmed said one of the men ordered, "Nobody move." He added that the same man ordered everyone to get down on the floor and give him their money. One by one, the men walked up to each customer in the restaurant, pointed a gun at each of them and demanded their cash and credit cards. The suspects also stole several jackets from their victims before fleeing the scene. Ahmed said the suspects robbed the two students of $40 and $23 in cash, respectively. The manager said that he himself was robbed of $80 in cash and that the suspects also took $70 from the cash register. Police recovered two pistols -- one nine-millimeter and one .380-caliber -- as well as all of the property stolen in the robbery. Paupau Awuklu, a cook at the diner, said he had begun to eat outside the kitchen when he saw the three men enter the restaurant. While the suspects were robbing the diner's customers, Awuklu said he went back into the kitchen and headed for the diner's office to call the police. But he added that one of the suspects followed him and threatened to kill him if he called the police. The suspect, however, eventually left the kitchen, allowing Awuklu to escape out the back door to where another telephone was located. From there, Awuklu said he dialed 911 and waited for police officers to arrive at the scene. "When I called the police I was afraid, very afraid," Awuklu said.

Hearing-impaired student robbed at gunpoint yesterday

(02/14/97 10:00am)

In an unrelated incident, a homeless man died after being found on campus. A partially deaf student -- who did not hear his friend's warnings that a man with a gun was running up behind him -- was struck in the head and robbed at gunpoint early yesterday morning near 39th and Sansom streets. Three suspects are still at large in yesterday morning's robbery, according to University Police Detective John Peterson, who is investigating the incident with the Philadelphia Police Department's Southwest Detectives Bureau. Peterson explained that two male seniors were walking north on 39th Street as they returned home from Chats when they noticed a man talking with two other men in a white sport-utility vehicle parked in front of the University of Pennsylvania Federal Credit Union at 39th and Chestnut streets. The man began following the two students down Sansom Street while the vehicle -- resembling a Jeep or Nissan Pathfinder -- waited nearby, Peterson said. When the non-hearing-impaired student heard the man running behind them on Sansom, he ran onto the porch of a nearby house and attempted to warn his friend that a man was about to strike him. But the student, who wears a hearing aid on his right ear, did not hear his friend's cries in time. The perpetrator struck the partially-deaf student in the head with a silver semiautomatic pistol, then apparently tore the student's pants open and stole his wallet containing $6 in cash and his PennCard before fleeing with the other two men in the getaway vehicle. The student -- disoriented from the attack and unable to discern the direction in which the automobile traveled -- was treated and released from HUP for minor head injuries, Peterson added. Police described the suspect who robbed the student as a 5 feet 10 inches tall, 25-year-old African American male weighing approximately 140 lbs., with short cropped hair and wearing a dark sweatshirt and blue jeans. The other two men in the getaway vehicle were also described as African American men. Also yesterday, an unidentified homeless man died in the afternoon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after a University Police officer found him unconscious outside David Rittenhouse Laboratory at 33rd and Walnut streets. University Police Officer Cornell Thomas discovered an unconscious man lying on the grass outside DRL at approximately 11:00 a.m. yesterday. The man was transported to HUP, where he was pronounced dead at 1:47 p.m. Peterson said University Police officers had seen the man outside DRL only the past two or three days and did not consider him a campus "regular." "Our officers on day work were trying to get him into a shelter, which he didn't want to go to," Peterson said. University Police does try to transport homeless people to shelters, in conjunction with city efforts to prevent deaths from extreme weather, but they cannot arrest those who refuse offers for help. Philadelphia Health Department Jeff Moran said he could not give the man's cause of death because an autopsy has not yet been performed, but Peterson said the cause was probably hypothermia. Moran added that he did not know the man's age.

Robbery suspect worked at nearby Uni-Mart

(02/13/97 10:00am)

Chester Beckett, the suspect arrested for last Thursday's armed robbery of Baskin Robbins, was described as an intelligent and well-educated individual who won an award last year for outstanding customer service while working at Uni-Mart. The suspect's brother is a Philadelphia Police officer who regularly patrols the University City area -- and was one of the first officers to respond to reports of the robbery. Beckett -- who has not yet been formally charged with robbing the popular campus ice cream store at gunpoint -- broke his leg sometime since then and is currently under police guard at Misericordia Hospital, University Police Detective John Peterson said. Peterson added that Beckett had apparently been robbed shortly before allegedly robbing Baskin Robbins at approximately 8:30 p.m. Uni-Mart store manager Dilip Patel said he was surprised to hear that Beckett, whom he described as a model employee, "had become a bad guy." Patel explained that Beckett had worked at Uni-Mart for approximately a year before beginning to miss work repeatedly. A Uni-Mart employee who requested anonymity said Beckett was not fired and had left the store of his own accord. Beckett, who is said to be in his late 30s, most recently worked behind the Blimpie sandwich counter the store added last summer. In late August, Beckett was awarded a 2-by-1 foot plaque signed by executives from the company's corporate offices recognizing his "exceptional service." Jill Swanson, a spokesperson for the State College, Pa.-based Uni-Marts, Inc. -- which has approximately 400 stores throughout six states -- said only approximately 90 of the company's 3,300 employees receive the award each year. Members of the University community and several Philadelphia Police officers shopping at Uni-Mart expressed shock at Beckett's arrest and described the suspect as an intelligent, good-natured employee whom no one expected to commit such an act. The Uni-Mart employee who had requested anonymity said he had usually worked the late-night shift with Beckett, who "really wasn't a rotten person" and got along well with everybody. "You would never really know if he was upset or mad," the employee said of Beckett. Several sources also said Beckett owned several local businesses in recent years -- including the 7-Eleven convenience store at 42nd and Walnut streets -- and was well-educated, having graduated from LaSalle University. Beckett has two young children but is said to have divorced his wife. His brother, David Beckett, patrols the 40th Street area for the 18th District. David Beckett said he recently graduated from police academy and began patrolling the area shortly after his brother left Uni-Mart, adding that he has not spoken with Chester in several years. Although Beckett is listed in stable condition, Detective Peterson said he did not know when he will be released from Misericordia Hospital at 53rd Street and Cedar Avenue. The suspect cannot be formally arraigned on robbery charges until then. The entire robbery -- which Baskin Robbins' owner said was the first at the store since he purchased it in November 1993 -- was caught on the store's video security camera. The suspect allegedly robbed the popular campus location of less than $100 in cash, all in $5 and $10 bills. University and Philadelphia Police officers apprehended Chester Beckett at 36th and Preston streets approximately two hours after the robbery.

U. Police make switch to semiautomatic handguns

(02/11/97 10:00am)

Philadelphia Police have carried semiautomatic for several years. Semiautomatic weapons are standard issue for Philadelphia Police officers and most campus police forces across the nation. And recently the Division of Public Safety has begun to provide University Police officers with the same type of weapons many experts say criminals already possess. Officials hailed the switch from revolvers to semiautomatics as a move that should have been made some time ago. "It was overdue," University Police Cpl. Hugh McBreen said. "Not that we have a lot of shootings here, but the streets are getting dangerous? You never know when you're going to need it." McBreen, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 113 -- which represents University Police officers -- said Philadelphia Police have been carrying semiautomatics since at least 1990. University Police Administration Director George Clisby explained that about eight officers of the 80-member force currently carry semiautomatics, and most of these weapons were already "personally owned by newly hired personnel." Clisby added that Public Safety issued the first semiautomatics -- Smith & Wesson's Sigma .40 model -- to firearms instructors last December, and the department will offer the weapons to its officers this spring. Officers must undergo three days of training and a follow-up session to gain certification to carry the handguns. "The majority of the line officers have not received transitional training to date," Clisby said. "The training equipment is arriving, and training schedules have been tentatively set based on public safety services and adequate staffing." McBreen noted that the firearms instructors will soon travel to Smith & Wesson's corporate headquarters in Springfield, Mass., to receive more specialized training in the "finer points of the gun." The intensive training and new equipment come with a sizable price tag. Clisby did not disclose the cost of the switch to semiautomatic weapons, but McBreen called the overhaul "expensive." Several local and national gun dealers pegged the Sigma .40's price at approximately $400 per weapon, with a 10-round magazine going for approximately $60 to $70. Public Safety must also purchase new holsters and magazine holders for officers who opt to carry the semiautomatics, he added. McBreen, who sat on the committee which chose the handguns, praised the Sigma .40's safety features, noting that "you can drop the gun and it won't fire." Public Safety's transition to semiautomatics is one part of Managing Director Thomas Seamon's master plan for campus safety, released last March. Seamon's report cites "increased firepower available to the criminal today" as the main reason behind police departments' conversion to semiautomatics. The switch was not without controversy. At a December 1995 meeting of University Council's Safety and Security Committee, Microbiology Professor Helen Davies and Penn Women's Center Associate Director Gloria Gay voiced vehement opposition to semiautomatics, arguing that criminals would in turn increase their firepower. But Seamon said at the meeting that semiautomatics are safer than revolvers and most major campus police forces already carry the weapons.

Alleged Sled killer pleads not guilty

(02/07/97 10:00am)

Two of the three suspects in the Halloween night stabbing death of University biochemist Vladimir Sled pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, robbery, theft and related charges yesterday. Bridget Black, who allegedly stabbed Sled five times, and Yvette Stewart, who allegedly waited in the getaway vehicle, entered not-guilty pleas at a formal arraignment, which officials described as a quick, routine procedure typical of most murder cases. The third suspect, Eugene "Sultan" Harrison, is scheduled to appear in a police lineup February 12 and at a preliminary hearing the following day. In a hearing last month, Harrison's court-appointed attorney, Tariq El-Shabazz, requested and was granted a lineup for his client after Sled's fiancee, University researcher Cecelia Hagerhall, mistakenly identified El-Shabazz as the perpetrator. Sled, a well-respected researcher, was murdered October 31 on the 4300 block of Larchwood Avenue while walking home from work with Hagerhall. Sled had been attempting to stop assailants from stealing Hagerhall's purse when Black allegedly stabbed him. University Police Detective William Danks explained that yesterday's pleas are not final -- noting that "99 percent of the time" defendants plead not guilty at the formal arraignment -- and the suspects have the option of changing their pleas any time before the start of the trial, which could be as long as a year away. But Lee Mandell, Stewart's court-appointed attorney, said the suspect will "absolutely" maintain a not-guilty plea throughout upcoming proceedings and the eventual trial. And Black's not-guilty plea contradicts a January 15 Philadelphia Daily News report that she would plead guilty at the arraignment in exchange for a life sentence. Assistant District Attorney Richard Carroll, who has said he will pursue the death penalty for all three defendants, has denied that a plea bargain is in the works. Only the judge and the defendants' attorneys were present at yesterday's arraignment, in which the District Attorney's office presents the defense attorneys with bills of information detailing the charges against the suspects. University Police Detective William Danks explained that such a bare-bones meeting -- Carroll was not present -- is normal procedure. "Half the time the District Attorney doesn't attend, and in almost all cases the defendant is not there," Danks said. The defendants now have 30 days to file motions before a series of status hearings begins. Yesterday's proceedings essentially determined that the two suspects will go to trial after a judge is assigned to handle the case, Danks said. And it is still unclear whether Black will maintain her not-guilty plea. "What they did today is not binding forever," Danks said. "They can change their mind at any time." At January's preliminary hearing, Philadelphia Homicide Detective Thomas Perks read a November 21 statement by Stewart describing a night in which the three suspects smoked crack and purchased alcohol en route to Billybob's restaurant at 40th and Spruce streets. At 43rd Street and Larchwood Avenue, Stewart witnessed Black and Harrison allegedly robbing Hagerhall while Sled tried to foil the crime. Stewart saw Black "swinging her arms, like she was trying to beat the man off Sultan." "I seen the guy let go of Sultan and the guy fell straight down to the ground," Stewart said in the statement. Harrison's preliminary hearing -- in which the prosecution will attempt to show that the suspect probably committed the crime -- is scheduled for February 13 at 9 a.m. in Room 903 of the Criminal Justice Center at 13th and Filbert streets. Carroll, Danks and University Police Detective Patricia Brennan told The Daily Pennsylvanian last month they felt they had a strong case against the defendants.

Libraries see added security

(02/05/97 10:00am)

Persistent crimes have prompted library officials to implement new security initiatives. Despite signs warning students and patrons to guard their belongings closely, persistent instances of theft have prompted University officials to take steps to improve security at several campus libraries. Van Pelt Library users have reported approximately 30 thefts to University Police since September 1, with backpacks, wallets and credit cards among the most frequently stolen items. Operational Services Manager Charles Jenkins said Van Pelt hired an additional security guard last fall after a female student was assaulted on the facility's third floor. The roving guard supplements the two employees guarding the library's entrance and exit. Noting that three emergency telephones were installed after the September incident, Administration and Finance Director John Keane said University Police officers periodically check the building. He added that security guards and library employees warn students who leave their property unattended. Health Sciences Libraries Director Valerie Pena, who oversees the Biomedical Library which is also a site of frequent thefts, hired a Spectaguard employee to patrol the facility. University-employed Spectaguards also make hourly rounds through the Johnson Pavilion facility during daytime hours Monday through Friday. "As far as I'm concerned personally, this is an unfunded mandate," Pena said. "I had to [fund the additional guard] by making hard trade-offs and leaving other positions unfilled." Pena added that she will attempt to secure funds in next year's budget specifically allocated for a security guard. Library officials explained that many of the Van Pelt crimes could be attributed to students feeling safe in the facility -- and consequently leaving their belongings unattended. "When you spend long hours in a place, you tend to get comfortable in that place," Jenkins said, adding that freshmen tend to be the most prone to thefts. Officials added that the library's being open to the general public during the week may contribute to security problems at the facility. Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush said a thief might stake out a student who brings a large drink with him or her -- because that student will be certain to use the bathroom and leave his or her belongings unattended. "Most people think, 'I'm in the library, I'm safe'," Rush said, noting that students are particularly vulnerable when they leave their wallets in their backpacks' front pockets. Keane explained that "most crimes that take place in the library are thefts of opportunity," adding that students sometimes leave their wallets unattended in open view. Despite the recent thefts, several students studying in Van Pelt yesterday said they generally feel safe in the library, although they are wary of leaving their belongings unattended. Wharton sophomore Joon Lee said he occasionally leaves his books in a carrel but carries valuables -- such as a personal cassette player -- with him. "Normally, nothing ever happens," said Lee, who has never been a theft victim. "I would think it's pretty easy to steal something."

Suspects arrested after assault

(02/05/97 10:00am)

A University Police officer and student suffered concussions early yesterday morning after being struck by two suspects who allegedly assaulted the student and then resisted arrest a few minutes later. University Police Detective John Peterson said the suspects were charged with three counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and resisting arrest. Police could not release the suspects' names until after their arraignment, which was scheduled for yesterday at midnight. The student and University Police Officer Len Harrison were both treated and released from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The incident began at approximately 1:25 a.m. yesterday, when two men began harassing a student inside the University Pinball gameroom at 40th and Spruce streets. The harassment quickly escalated and the suspects allegedly assaulted the student, giving him a concussion. College senior Brett Levinson, who lives on 40th and Spruce streets, witnessed the attack, which he described as "vicious." "I saw a black male sitting on the student and swinging his arms onto the guy," he said. "After an employee [of University Pinball] came to help the student, the suspect stomped him before fleeing." He added that the student appeared to "swagger" after being helped up. Soon after the assault, an individual at the scene told University Police Sgt. Thomas Rambo that the suspects were fleeing east on Locust Walk, according to Peterson. Rambo then radioed other officers, who arrested the suspects in front of High Rise East. But as the officers attempted to place the suspects inside a University Police van, the two men resisted arrest. After trying to break a window on the van, one of the suspects allegedly kicked Harrison in the face, giving him a concussion, while the other suspect escaped on foot. University Police officers swarmed around the area, arresting one suspect outside the Steinberg Conference Center and the other at the Wawa convenience store at 38th and Spruce streets. Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush explained that striking a police officer automatically brings charges of aggravated assault instead of simple assault. Rush added that the incident is indicative of the difficulties with the game room and other businesses at 40th and Spruce Streets. "It just reemphasizes the problem with the kind of business the gameroom brings," she said. Students should be able to feel safe inside those establishments, Rush continued. "For no reason, people start coming up and harassing [the student]," she said. "I'm a little angry that our community members are assaulted so freely like that."

Public Safety reassigns Special Services liaison

(02/04/97 10:00am)

For most people, being transferred from working a day shift to the nighttime "graveyard shift" means completely overhauling their sleep schedule. But for several community town watch organizations, the Division of Public Safety's reassignment of University Police Lt. Sue Holmes -- from Special Services to Police Operations -- means losing a trusted liaison who provided key support for their groups over the past few years. Beginning Monday, Holmes, who has 14 years of experience with Public Safety, will supervise the University Police's 11 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shift instead of working regular daytime hours in Special Services. "She provided a lot of administrative backup for these town watch groups that are essentially volunteer groups," Special Services Director Susan Hawkins said. "I understand they're upset over losing an individual that they're very connected to and has been very helpful to them." Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush explained that the night shift has not had a supervisor since she was promoted from Special Services director one year ago. In the meantime, Capt. John Richardson has worked erratic hours -- 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. instead of 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. -- to cover part of the night shift. "The game plan was always to have a shift commander on the midnight shift that could communicate with me on a regular basis," Rush said, adding that Holmes' seniority places her squarely in line for the supervisor position. Town watch organizations, however, are questioning the University's commitment to the surrounding community and the motive behind the reassignment. West Philadelphia resident and community leader Barbara Brown said Public Safety officials implied they were going to weaken support for the surrounding community at a recent meeting with town watch groups. "I put forth some pretty rough questions to them," said Brown, whose Diamond Town Watch group covers the Wynnefield section northwest of campus. "Their main focus was, 'the University this, the University that, we have to protect the University'." Brown added that the loss of Holmes has devastated morale among town watch groups. "So many people want to get out of it now," she said. But Public Safety officials noted that the department will continue to maintain contact with the groups through multiple University liaisons such as Greg Montanaro, who works in the executive vice president's office, and Hawkins herself. Hawkins, who has acted as Special Services director since December 13, noted she is currently devising a plan for the University's interaction with the town watch groups. "A bridge between Penn and the community is absolutely vital, but that bridge has to consist of more than one person," Hawkins said. She noted that the city "has primary responsibility for funding those town watch groups and providing them with radios and things like that," adding that the groups "feel like they haven't gotten as much support as they'd like from the city, so they look to the University." And evidently, the groups relied on Holmes to assist them with regular operations. "Sue was doing such a wonderful job that it was hard to see why they'd want to replace her," said West Philadelphia resident Marty Cabry, a Clark Park West Town Watch volunteer. "[Holmes] did a tremendous amount, frankly on her own time, that was not something she was directed to do," Hawkins said. "She's very dedicated to this community and took a lot of initiative in doing that." Holmes declined to comment on the reasons for her reassignment, saying only that her status as an A-1 University employee -- essentially an administrator -- allows her to work any hours of the day.

Mini-station opens doors amid fanfare

(02/03/97 10:00am)

Capping off 57 days of intensive renovations, the Division of Public Safety consolidated several operations and increased its visibility Friday by formally opening its new $300,000 mini-station on 40th Street. The location between Burger King and Smokey Joe's -- which was vacated by Marty's discount store approximately four years ago -- will house Public Safety's Special Services and bicycle patrol units, in addition to Sensormatic Electronics Corporation's campus security headquarters. But Public Safety will only occupy the location until December 1997 or January 1998, when the division will move all of its operations to a new headquarters on the 4000 block of Chestnut Street. Executive Vice President John Fry said that following the move to the new headquarters, the mini-station will house the nascent University City Special Services unit, a partnership of Penn, Drexel University and several other police and community organizations. Friday's cocktail reception and opening ceremony featured short speeches from officials and students praising the new facility as well as University efforts to reduce crime on and around campus. "This is a mini-station, but I think its impact on the University is going to be anything but mini," University President Judith Rodin said. "We really do expect it just to have tremendous effects everywhere." The mini-station is located approximately one block from the spot where College senior Patrick Leroy was shot in September as he fled a robbery attempt at 40th and Locust streets. Fry also announced further improvements to 40th Street such as an overhaul of the Hamilton Village shops facade, new Center City District-style lighting and blue-light phones "up and down the entire corridor." "Fortieth Street is one of the most important streets to this university," Fry said, adding that "both the community and the University have a huge interest in making sure that it's a safe and exciting and wonderful place to be." The mini-station -- which is divided into Police Services on one side and the Special Services unit on the other -- features a bright, green-and-pink pastel motif and neon signs, contrasting in appearance with the older Public Safety facilities in Superblock. Architect Harris Steinberg, who holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University and designed the mini-station, said workers toiled on the new facility literally up to the last minute, completing its paint job shortly before the reception began. And although Public Safety has been using the facility for two weeks, some areas are still incomplete, such as a room containing a bank of empty television terminals which will soon house Sensormatic's electronic security command center. Dick Saunders, a senior account manager for Sensormatic, explained that all alarm systems and blue-light telephones will be wired directly to the room. Other services housed in the mini-station include Spectaguard's campus headquarters, PennWatch and Walking Escort. PennWatch President Jon Brightbill, a Wharton senior, said the new facility will probably not impact his student-run townwatch organization, although the location is "more prominent" than the former mini-station at 3927 Walnut Street. "From a functional perspective it's the same for us," he said. Other West Philadelphia community members at the grand-opening ceremony praised University administrators and community groups for working together on the new facility and other projects. City Councilperson and West Philadelphia resident Jannie Blackwell, commended the University for striving "to form a relationship with the community that will take us into the year 2000 and beyond." And Courtney Fine, chairperson of the Undergraduate Assembly's Safety Committee, said she hopes the mini-station will encourage more students to frequent 40th Street. "Unfortunately, it is unlikely that crime will ever be completely eradicated," the College sophomore said. "The students, however, pledge their full support in making this center as successful as we know it will be."

New detectives bring experience to University Police

(01/31/97 10:00am)

Several former Philadelphia Police detectives working on the University force said the settings are quite similar. When asked how his job with University Police differs from his old one with the Philadelphia Police Department, Detective Joseph Hasara explained he only notices one real difference -- "the name on the paycheck." And his colleague, Detective Frank DeMeo -- also a city veteran -- agreed, noting that "there really isn't a difference between working in a city and working at a university." With the hiring of Hasara, DeMeo and two more detectives last summer, the Division of Public Safety doubled the investigative unit's size, adding an experienced group of investigators and distributing the unit's caseload -- 1,670 in 1994 -- more effectively. And although Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush has not yet begun to search for a replacement for Investigative Unit Supervisor Mike Carroll, who was dismissed in October, the colorful cast of detectives said they are doing just fine, particularly in their relations with the Philadelphia Police Department. "It used to be that there were a lot of closed doors," said Detective Gary Heller, citing his colleagues' "wealth of experience" and extensive contacts with the city police department. In fact, several current University Police detectives, such as Patricia Brennan -- who led the investigation into the 1994 murder of Mathematics graduate student Al-Moez Alimohamed -- left the Philadelphia Homicide division. "It's a different type of work environment than I'm used to," Brennan said, despite the fact that in her short time at the University she has already assisted her old department with investigations into the stabbing death of University biochemist Vladimir Sled and the shooting of College senior Patrick Leroy. In addition to doubling the unit's size, Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon's master security plan calls for revamping the unit's case screening and case management systems. The detectives say that much of this new system has been implemented successfully, as they no longer must sift through case files and investigate each and every incident reported to University Police. In the past, Detective John Peterson explained, "a bag of potato chips taken from Wawa held the same weight as a $20,000 robbery." The unit's modernized case screening system -- principally the work of Detective Peggy O'Malley -- also allows the detectives to spend more time undercover on the streets around campus. The detectives asked The Daily Pennsylvanian not to photograph them for this article in order to maintain their undercover status. Hasara, for example, was driving on Sansom Street last Friday when he witnessed a robbery in progress in front of King's Court/ English House. He notified headquarters, and within minutes, University Police had chased down and arrested three suspects a few blocks away. And Heller noted that "you're not bogged down as much with trivial things." "You're spending time on things that are really important," he added. Although the detectives are kept busy by University cases, several of the investigators recalled the excitement of big cases from their early years with the Philadelphia Police Department. Detective William Danks related the tale of a man who burned down an apartment building in 1977. Danks tracked the suspect to a local psychiatric ward, but the hospital staff denied Danks access to the suspect, who had checked himself into the facility. Frustrated, Danks left the hospital, only to return after receiving news that the man had set fire to the building. The detectives pointed to cases like these to explain their devotion to their professions. Many said they refuse to take examinations for departmental promotions because they enjoy their jobs so much. "If you're riding around a four-square-block area 10 times a day, you have a tendency to get a little bored sometimes," said DeMeo. The detectives are also looking forward to moving into the new Public Safety headquarters at 40th and Chestnut streets later this September. The detectives currently share a tight third-floor room in the department's Superblock headquarters, although all eight are usually not present in the building at the same time. "It's the one thing we agree on," Brennan said of the lack of space.

Police arrest suspect in robbery spree

(01/29/97 10:00am)

Daniel Jones, an 18-yearold Philadelphia resident, was arrested yesterday. Philadelphia Police officers yesterday arrested an 18-year-old man suspected in the off-campus robberies of five University students within four hours Monday night. Daniel Jones, who resides on Alden Street in Southwest Philadelphia, was arraigned yesterday with bail set at $75,000, according to University Police Detective Frank DeMeo and Philadelphia Police officials. Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush said city police stopped a grey-silver Toyota hatchback at approximately 4:30 a.m. yesterday at 52nd and Spruce streets, at which point they arrested Jones. University Police officials said they did not know why the Philadelphia Police officers had stopped Jones' car. Jones was charged with three of the five off-campus robberies, as well as two additional robberies of West Philadelphia taxicab drivers. And while those victims have already identified Jones, Rush said the other victims have not yet had the opportunity to identify the suspect, who is being held at the Philadelphia Police Department's 18th District headquarters at 55th and Pine streets. "We believe additional charges will be placed upon him after other victims get a chance to look at the photo spread," she said. In response to what Rush called a "one-man crime spree," University Police added uniformed and plainclothes officers to last night's regular police complement and many officers worked overtime hours. It appears that Jones allegedly robbed the evening's first victim at 42nd and Sansom streets, then wound his way to 40th and Spruce streets, robbing four more people shortly before midnight Monday. Police said the alleged suspect also robbed a student at 40th and Spruce streets at approximately 3:20 a.m. yesterday. In each robbery, the suspect simulated pointing a gun -- by showing a bulge in his jacket pocket -- at the victims and demanded money. No injuries were reported in any of the robberies. The first incident occurred near 42nd and Sansom streets, where a student reported that a man robbed him of his watch and $18 in cash. A short time later, a female West Philadelphia resident reported that a man, stating he had a gun, robbed her of $8 in cash. In the next reported incident -- which occurred on 41st Street between Locust and Spruce streets -- a male student walked away unharmed after the suspect said, "Give me your wallet or I'll shoot." The suspect then allegedly robbed two female students on Spruce Street between 40th and 41st streets at approximately 11:30 p.m., taking $19 total in cash. Less than four hours later, a male student reported that the suspect robbed him of $2 in front of Billybob's restaurant at 40th and Spruce streets. Victims described the suspect as a African American male between 5'6" and 5'11" wearing a black puffy jacket and dark jeans, Rush said. She added that the suspect was probably looking for money to purchase drugs and searched for more victims after only receiving a small amount of money from his earlier robberies. Jones was charged with two other robberies of West Philadelphia taxicab drivers, one at 57th and Chestnut streets and the other at 57th Street and Springfield Avenue. Jones' preliminary hearing should take place within three to nine days of the arraignment, Rush said. Two other students were robbed in incidents that police said were unrelated to Monday's mugging spree but possibly related to each other. In the first mugging -- which occurred at approximately 11:30 a.m. Monday -- two African American men approached a male graduate student at 44th and Pine streets. One of the suspects held a gun to the student's back while the other took his wallet. The student described one suspect as 6'1", weighing 200 pounds and wearing a black coat and skullcap. The other was described as 6'3" and wearing a blue coat and dark skullcap and jeans. And at approximately 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, a female graduate student reported that a black man, wearing a green coat, red knit hat and black pants grabbed her near 43rd and Pine streets. She managed to pull free of the alleged suspect and ran east on Pine Street to a friend's house. The suspect chased her down Pine Street, before fleeing north on 42nd Street, Rush said. She explained that University Police and Philadelphia Police work together to deploy officers strategically by regularly examining crime statistics and modifying officers' deployment based on any possible trends.

Student robbed outside King's Court/English House

(01/27/97 10:00am)

University Police arrested three suspects after an officer in an unmarked car witnessed the incident. University Police chased down and arrested three men Friday who allegedly mugged a student outside King's Court/English House just minutes earlier. The student, a freshman who lives in the dormitory, said he was walking alone on Sansom Street at approximately midnight when two black men -- one he described as short and stocky, the other tall -- shoved him against the building's wall and demanded his money. After the suspects stole the student's wallet and fled the scene, Detective Joseph Hasara -- who had witnessed the entire incident from an unmarked police vehicle -- and several other University Police officers pursued the men by car and on foot, apprehending two of the suspects at 38th and Sansom streets and the third at 37th and Chestnut streets. Police charged the suspects with robbery, criminal conspiracy and related charges. The incident was classified as a strong-arm robbery because the suspects did not use a weapon. The student, who was not injured in the incident, said he was walking home from a movie at Cinemagic 3 when he encountered the men. "They basically told me that I had to shut up and give them my money," the student said. One of the suspects used the victim's umbrella to obscure the scene while other students walked by, and ordered him to pretend they were just asking him some questions, the student said, adding that he did not know whether the men had any weapons. When the student handed over his wallet, the suspects noticed it was empty and continued to question him. "The short guy said, 'Where's the money?' I said, 'I swear I don't have any money'," the student explained. At that time, the suspects, perhaps having seen some of the University Police Officers, "started walking very fast," the student said. After a frantic chase lasting several minutes, police apprehended two suspects near the 7-Eleven store at 38th and Sansom streets and a third -- who was allegedly to drive the getaway car -- in front of International House at 37th and Chestnut streets. A University Police officer drove the student to each of the arrest locations, but the student was only able to identify one of the perpetrators because he did not get a good look at the other two. Still, Philadelphia Police Detectives who questioned the student told him they have an "airtight" case against the suspects because Hasara witnessed the entire incident and police found the student's wallet on one of the suspects. Sgt. Tim Trucksess said he could not release the names of the suspects, but police said the alleged getaway vehicle was a 1990 Toyota Camry registered to Anthony and Shirley Brown of West Philadelphia. The car's registration had been suspended for insurance violations. The student, who will eventually testify in court against the suspects, said he was "really impressed" by the speed of the University Police response, but warned that the area in front of King's Court/English House may not be as safe as most students believe it is. "Generally, everyone thinks that they're safe on Sansom," the student said, citing security guards at his dormitory and the neighboring Law School.

Spring trial likely for Leroy shooting

(01/23/97 10:00am)

One suspect will plead guilty, said a defense source. The trial of the three suspects charged with the attempted murder of Patrick Leroy will likely take place before the College senior graduates in May, Assistant District Attorney Jodi Lobel said. Leroy's shooting on September 25 -- after he tried to flee a robbery at 40th and Locust streets -- came on the heels of a rash of armed robberies on or near campus that month, shocking the University community and prompting officials to reexamine campus security measures. Lobel said the trial date will be announced at a hearing January 30 or February 3. Suspects Albert Bandy, Christopher Crawford and Christopher Jones have the option of entering a plea at one of those sessions, which are primarily for the attorneys to exchange information. A source close to the defense said Jones, the last suspect arrested, intends to plead guilty -- but not necessarily before the trial starts. "If they come in on the 30th and say they want to plead guilty, they can do it then," Lobel said, noting that she believes Jones might plead guilty. She added that Crawford and Bandy have not yet indicated how they will plead. Crawford, of Wilmington, Del., allegedly fired the shot that wounded Leroy in the lower back. Leroy returned to classes after spending one week at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia Police first arrested Crawford as he drove near the Philadelphia International Airport less than an hour after the 2:20 a.m. robbery. Five days later, police arrested Bandy, of West Philadelphia, but both suspects posted bail soon after their arrests and were released. But October 8, Philadelphia Police rearrested Crawford and Bandy, charging them with robbing a University student at gunpoint earlier that night at 46th Street and Baltimore Avenue, as well as with robbing a bar at 52nd Street and Girard Avenue. Jones, also a West Philadelphia resident, turned himself in to Philadelphia Police October 17. Since that day, the attorneys and suspects have undergone preliminary hearings and arraignments and are currently in pretrial hearings. University Police Detective William Danks said the case is essentially "in limbo" right now, while Louis Priluker, Crawford's court-appointed attorney, said the defense is now waiting for the trial to begin and for information regarding the investigation. Priluker declined to comment on whether Crawford would plead guilty, citing attorney-client privilege. Susan Burt, Jones' court-appointed attorney, said her client had less involvement in the shooting than the other suspects. "He's certainly the least culpable of the three people and the least sophisticated," Burt said.

U. ordered to reinstate fired police officer

(01/22/97 10:00am)

Characterizing police testimony as "hearsay" and stressing the weak evidence offered against him, an independent arbitrator cleared a University Police officer of charges that he beat a homeless man behind the Civic Center, ordering the University to rehire him with full back pay and lost benefits. The arbitrator, Stanley Schwartz, added that "the University did not have just cause to terminate" Officer Antonio Serrano in October 1995. Schwartz handed down the decision in November after hearing arguments from both sides during the summer. University Police dismissed Serrano for allegedly transporting a homeless man, Arthur Glover, from the 7-Eleven store at 38th and Chestnut streets to the Civic Center and -- with former Officer Thomas McDade -- beating the man in September 1995. Serrano and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 113 immediately filed a grievance protesting the discharge. "The decision speaks for itself," said Dianne Sheppard, attorney for the FOP. "There wasn't any evidence to support the allegations." Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon said his department has complied with Schwartz's orders but declined comment on the case, calling it "an internal personnel matter." University attorney Mary Kohart also declined to comment on the ruling, as did FOP Lodge 113 President Hugh McBreen. McDade is currently involved in a separate arbitration hearing over the same case, and a decision on reinstating him should be reached within two months, Sheppard said. After the alleged beating, Philadelphia Police investigated the incident and presented the case to the District Attorney's Office, which cited lack of evidence in its decision not to press charges against Serrano and McDade. But then-University Police Chief George Clisby re-examined the case and opted to fire Serrano. "The burden of proof in discipline cases is traditionally the employer's," Schwartz wrote. Schwartz noted that the University hurt its case by not asking Glover to testify after maintaining that he could not be found. Additionally, Clisby never personally interviewed Glover, and the University presented largely circumstantial evidence in support of its decision to fire Serrano, he said. Although both sides agreed that Glover had been assaulted, no witnesses to the incident were found, and Glover's fingerprints were not on the police van in which he claimed to have been transported. And despite the fact that police found a black baseball cap belonging to Glover behind the Civic Center, Schwartz said this only proved Glover had been to the facility that evening. Furthermore, Glover's inability to identify Serrano from a group of photographs, along with testimony from 7-Eleven employees and Civic Center security guards who said they had not seen the University Police van, also detracted from the University's arguments. Near the end of the decision, Schwartz asked whether the evidence "is persuasive enough to end the career and besmirch the reputation of an otherwise satisfactory employee."

Conviction expected in Sled case

(01/17/97 10:00am)

Officials heading the investigation into the stabbing death of University biochemist Vladimir Sled said they can convict the three suspects of first-degree murder charges when the case goes to trial, which may be as early as September. University Police Detective Patricia Brennan, who has assisted Philadelphia homicide detectives since the Halloween night slaying, called the confessions by the suspects in Sled's murder "strong." And Assistant District Attorney Dick Carroll downplayed Tuesday's incident in which Sled's fiancee misidentified two of the suspects at a preliminary hearing. At the hearing, Philadelphia Homicide Detective Thomas Perks read a statement from suspect Yvette Stewart in which she admitted that the three smoked crack cocaine on their way to Billybob's restaurant before attacking Sled and his fiancee, Cecelia Hagerhall, on the 4300 block of Larchwood Avenue. Brennan said the other two statements -- which have not yet been made public -- contain similar information and implicate all three in the murder. "The gist of all three are the same," she said. "They corroborate what witnesses told us happened out there, and they corroborate one another." Carroll continued to maintain that Bridget Black -- who allegedly stabbed Sled five times during the robbery -- has not reached a plea bargain with the District Attorney's office, althouth a recent article in the Philadelphia Daily News reported that Black is willing to plead guilty at her February 6 arraignment in exchange for a life sentence. Citing a "good, strong case" and "good police work," Carroll said he intends to pursue the death penalty for Black, Stewart and Eugene "Sultan" Harrison. "We shouldn't have any problems with it," he said. "It's an eminently tryable case and I really don't see any defenses." Black, Harrison and Stewart were all originally scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, at which the DA was to present simple evidence that a crime had been committed and that the suspects probably committed the crime, according to University Police Detective William Danks. But Black waived her hearing, indicating she is likely to plead guilty, Danks added. Carroll explained that a further complication was introduced after Hagerhall was asked if the male suspect was in the courtroom, she identified Harrison's lawyer, Tariq El-Shabazz, as the perpetrator, and also confused Black and Stewart. The actual suspect, Harrison, was not even in the room. As a result of that misidentification, El-Shabazz requested that Hagerhall identify Harrison in a police lineup. Municipal Court Judge Francis Cosgrove granted the attorney's request, and the lineup is scheduled for February 12, with Harrison's preliminary hearing set for the next day. "She was never intended to be an identification witness," Carroll said of Hagerhall. "We don't need her to identify the doers -- they identified themselves in their statements." Carroll and Danks projected a late summer or early fall 1997 start date for the trial. Fred Goodman and Dean Owens, Black's attorneys from the Philadelphia Public Defender's Office, refused to comment on the case or the reported plea bargain. The murder of Sled -- a well-liked and respected researcher -- along with the September shooting of College senior Patrick Leroy in a robbery attempt on 40th Street, shocked the University community, coming at the end of a rash of other crimes that prompted administrators to try to beef up security in the area west of campus.

Suspects smoked crack before Sled murder

(01/16/97 10:00am)

The alleged killer may plead guilty at an arraignment February 6 in order to avoid the death penalty. The three suspects in the stabbing death of Vladimir Sled smoked crack cocaine en route to Billybob's restaurant before they attacked the University biochemist and his fiancee Cecelia Hagerhall on the 4300 block of Larchwood Avenue, according to a statement by one of the suspects, Yvette Stewart. Stewart told police she watched from the car as Eugene Harrison and Bridget Black struggled with Sled after attempting to steal Hagerhall's pocketbook. When Sled fell to the ground, the three fled the scene in a car driven by Harrison. Police read the statement Tuesday at a preliminary hearing at which Sled's fiancee, Cecelia Hagerhall, mistakenly identified Harrison's lawyer, Tariq El-Shabazz, as the alleged attacker. Hagerhall also pointed to Stewart, not Black, as the woman who assisted Harrison in the struggle. Additionally, an unconfirmed report in yesterday's Philadelphia Daily News said Black, who allegedly stabbed Sled five times, plans to plead guilty at her February 6 arraignment in exchange for a life sentence. She waived her right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday. The Halloween night murder of Sled -- a well-liked and respected researcher -- along with the September shooting of College senior Patrick Leroy in a robbery attempt on 40th Street, shocked the University community and prompted University officials to implement better lighting and security patrols in the area west of campus. Assistant District Attorney Dick Carroll said his office intends to seek the death penalty for all three suspects. Carroll emphasized that Black has not "cut a deal" with his office but they "certainly would be receptive to an overture." "It's not much of a secret that [Black] was the stabber," Carroll said. "The most we can do for her is offer her [a life sentence]. We wouldn't take anything less than that." After Black and Stewart's arraignment, Hagerhall will have to identify Harrison in a lineup February 12. Harrison's preliminary hearing is scheduled for the next day. El-Shabazz said Hagerhall's misstep Tuesday raises doubts about her ability to identify Harrison as the male who assaulted Sled and her. "Identifying me as the perpetrator clearly indicates that she is unable to make an identification of the male that was involved in this case," he said. But El-Shabazz maintained that Stewart's statement, which implicated Harrison in the slaying, will not have an effect on Harrison -- who Stewart refers to as "Sultan" throughout her statement. In a November 21 statement given to Philadelphia Homicide Detective Thomas Perks, Stewart paints a frightening picture of drugs, alcohol and death on Halloween night. "We all got back in the car after I got my cocaine," Stewart said. "The three of us smoked a couple bags of cocaine. Bridget wanted Sultan to drive her to get some corn liquor." After getting the alcohol, Harrison picked up some money at a bar at 52nd and Market streets, and then headed toward campus. "We left there, and we got gas in the car and we now were going to Billybob's. I guess he wanted to get something to eat. "On the way Sultan started driving real slow. He pulled onto this dark little spot and he jumped out. He started to walk around the corner. Me and Bridget stayed in the car," Stewart continued. Black left the car 10 minutes later, according to the statement, at which point Stewart heard screaming and drove over to examine the scene. "And I saw Sultan and a man tussling. The man was holding onto Sultan. I seen Bridget swinging on a lady. She was trying to get her pocketbook off the lady. "I saw Sultan, he looked like he was out of breath and I saw Bridget go over to help him. I saw Bridget swinging her arms, like she was trying to beat the man off Sultan. I seen the guy let go of Sultan and the guy fell straight down to the ground," Stewart said. The three then fled in the car with Harrison at the wheel. Stewart noticed blood all over the hands of Black, who had a hunting knife and Hagerhall's belongings. After stopping on Ruby Street, Harrison tried to run over Black with the car. The two had been arguing over Hagerhall's pocketbook. "He said he was going to kill that bitch," Stewart said. Hagerhall said Tuesday she heard a shot coming from the getaway car, but Stewart said no one in the car had a gun. Stewart was photographed as she attempted to use Hagerhall's bank card to withdraw money from an automatic teller machine approximately one hour after the murder. Attorney Lee Mandell, who represents Stewart, maintained that his client was not involved with the actual murder and should only be charged with using the stolen card. "This woman had no knowledge that anything was going to happen," he said of his client. "As far as this getaway nonsense goes, it's pure bunkum." The ATM photographs -- several of which showed Harrison -- led detectives to arrest the three murder suspects.

State proposes new campus crime reporting rules

(01/15/97 10:00am)

It remains unclear how the regulations will affect the University's current crime reporting practices. While new campus crime reporting regulations approved last week by the Pennsylvania Board of Education mandate stricter definitions of campus boundaries, it is unclear how the regulations will affect University Police's daily crime reporting practices or definitions of "on-campus." The police -- defining "on campus" as University-owned or controlled properties -- reported 18 on-campus robberies in 1995. But internal police records show that the department received 188 additional reports of robberies throughout the year. This discrepancy -- as reported in the November 25 Philadelphia Inquirer -- prompted a federal investigation by the Department of Education into the University's reporting practices. Penn is the only school in the state whose practices are currently under investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office. University Police Lt. Joe Weaver, who handles the department's records, declined to comment on how the new regulations would affect reporting procedures until the additions are finalized -- which could be anywhere from eight to 18 months from now. Weaver emphasized, however, that University Police complies with the College and University Security Information Act of 1994, which mandates the department to report annual crime statistics to the state police. "The only thing I can tell you is that we will comply with whatever legislation is finalized," he said. The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office is now examining an anonymous complaint that the University's annual crime report does not comply with the law. Spokesperson Jack Lewis noted that the Attorney General's office did not collaborate with the Education Department in developing the new regulations. "I think these new regulations are addressing some of the issues that we may have raised with the University on our own," he said, adding that the regulations "may to some degree make what we're looking at in the past a moot point." "We think it makes it clearer to the schools what they need to do," he said. "We feel other schools probably had the same problems." The next step in the regulatory process is review and approval by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, followed by submission to the education committees in the state legislature. Michele Haskins, a spokesperson for the commission, said the regulations should improve the accuracy of information reported annually to state authorities. Despite the fact that the regulations are still in their preliminary stages, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Eugene Hickok called them "an important step in ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of students and faculty at colleges and universities throughout the Commonwealth." The reporting practices also led alternative newspaper Philadelphia Weekly to name University President Judith Rodin one of its "Villains of '96." The paper questioned her explanation of why certain areas -- such as 40th and Walnut streets -- are considered "off campus."

Winter break crime drops 10% from last year

(01/13/97 10:00am)

The decease in incidents reported to University Police may indicate the effectiveness of several new security programs. Crime did not take a holiday from the campus area over break, but fewer incidents were reported to University Police this year than during the last two winter vacations. University Police figures show 81 crimes reported between Friday, December 20 and 4 p.m. on Friday, January 10. One incident was reported after the 4 p.m. cut-off for a pre-Saturday total of 82 crimes. That figure is down 10 percent from the 91 incidents reported during last year's winter break, and is 14 percent lower than the 95 crimes reported two years ago. Though the school year opened with an increase over the usual crime rate, a host of new security measures put in place after College senior Pat Leroy was shot in late September helped stem the tide later in the semester. The decrease in crimes reported over break may be an indication that the safety programs -- including an off-campus patrol squad from Spectaguard -- are working. A breakdown of the total number of winter break incidents by type of crime was not available from University Police at press time. A Daily Pennsylvanian tally, however, counted six auto thefts, eight thefts from autos, seven cases of shoplifting, three burglaries and an additional 26 simple thefts. Two of the six robberies reported to University Police involved firearms, and the remaining four involved the use of force. One of the robberies occurred early Christmas morning at 40th and Market streets. A suspect robbed two individuals at gunpoint, taking $50 in cash before fleeing north on 40th Street, according to University Police Captain John Richardson. Two popular campus retail outlets were also hit with robbery or attempted robbery over break. A male suspect with a simulated weapon took seven compact discs from Vibes Music at 38th and Walnut streets, according to the store's manager. And three male suspects -- attempting to steal several shirts from The Gap at 34th and Walnut streets -- assaulted two store employees. In the ensuing struggle, however, the employees managed to recover the clothing. No injuries were reported. In an assault at St. Mark's Square and Spruce Street last Tuesday, a male suspect struck a female student in the back with an unknown weapon, knocking her to the ground. The suspect then positioned himself on top of the student, who screamed -- causing the suspect to flee. The student was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. University Police arrested three males at 34th and Chestnut streets for possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia last Wednesday. No further details were available, but Richardson said the suspects were "probably" not students. There was also a report of ethnic intimidation between a white store manager and Asian vendor outside the Hamilton Village shopping center on 40th Street. According to Richardson, the manager allegedly made a derogatory statement toward Asians during a confrontation with the vendor. And on New Year's Day, a male suspect who was aggressively panhandling outside Wawa Food Market at 38th and Spruce streets was issued a citation for "obstructing the highway." Police then took the man to the Philadelphia Police Department's Southwest Detective Bureau on an outstanding warrant for other charges.