PRINCETON: Police, university release details on agreement

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
   Princeton police released on Wednesday an edited version of its agreement with Princeton University concerning how police and the University Department of Public Safety personnel will handle crimes and other incidents that occur on campus or other school property.
   The document spells out for law enforcement and the university what geographic areas of university owned property they are responsible for responding to and lists the types of crimes for which the respective agencies will have primary or secondary investigative responsibility. Those kinds of details, including a color-coded jurisdictional map, were not made public.
   Princeton police would have “primary responsibility for in-progress calls, calls with weapons and some of the most serious crimes that occur on the (Princeton University) property,” the document read in part. “In these serious cases, both departments will conduct joint follow-up investigations with each providing staff as needed with a goal to conduct thorough and effective investigations, while at the same time making the best use of each department’s resources.”
   Princeton Councilwoman Jo S. Butler on Wednesday raised concern about some language in the agreement, specifically the part about police having responsibility for “some” serious crimes. To her, the document is worded in a way that makes it sound like university security, not Princeton police, will be handling serious offenses too.
   ”That’s the way I read it,” she said.
   University spokesman Martin A. Mbugua said Wednesday that he could not discuss “specific operational” procedures of the public safety department, a group made up of sworn officers and other security staff. They do not carry guns.
   Moreover, the agreement states that the university public safety department “will generally have primary response and investigative responsibility for calls in the jurisdiction of Princeton University property.”
   Police Capt. Nicholas K. Sutter, who signed the agreement on behalf of the department May 14, said Wednesday that police would have responsibility for a “majority” of the off-campus properties around town.
   Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, whose husband is a university professor, said Wednesday that the agreement provides “clarity” for police and university public safety. She directed more specific questions about the document to Capt. Sutter, the leader of the department since the departure of Chief David J. Dudeck.
   The document says routine service calls, like a lockout, building check or door alarm, are the responsibility of the university. The agreement is silent on the university having its own 911 system, an issue that Capt. Sutter said is still being looked at. He said he believed that all 911 calls from hard lines in off-campus buildings go to Princeton police.
   Mayor Lempert said the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office was involved in reviewing the agreement, although only representatives of the police and the university signed it.
   To Ms. Butler, the absence of the prosecutor’s signing off raises another concern about leaving the town open for future legal liability in cases when crime victims contend the police, not university security, should have been investigating an offense.
   In terms of crimes, the document makes a distinction between crimes in progress, such as sexual assault, versus ones that are reported after the fact and are not pending. In such an after-the-fact sexual assault, neither police nor the prosecutor’s office would be the lead investigative agency, Capt. Sutter said.
   How the university handles a rape would vary from case to case depending on the circumstances, Mr. Mbugua said. That could include providing counseling to a student who chooses not to pursue the matter criminally or referring the matter to Princeton police, he said.
   The university is required by federal law to publish an annual list of crimes that occur on campus. Over the years, some Princeton officials have had concerns about the accuracy of the university’s reporting of crime statistics.
   In March, the school was forced to respond to the leak of an internal university survey done in 2008 that found one in six female students said they had been sexually assaulted. The figure was well above what was reported.
   The school did subsequent surveys of students, according to Mr. Mbugua.
   ”In the years following the 2008 survey, surveys of Princeton male and female undergraduates were conducted in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, and those surveys showed that one in eight students reported experiencing sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking in a 12-month period,” he said in an email.
   ”Information from those surveys has been shared with students, most recently last fall, to encourage an open dialogue about gender violence on campus and encourage victims/survivors to interpret their experience in the context of a larger societal issue.”