University to investigate UAPD allegations
Anonymous letter alleges bullying, misconduct in campus policeBy Sean Landry | 02/18/2015 11:49pm
The letter, a copy of which was sent to The Crimson White, begins, “I am employed by the University of Alabama Police Department” and alleges a pattern of favoritism and inconsistent disciplinary policies by UAPD administration asserting that “more than one standard exists for police employees at UAPD.”
The letter also accuses UAPD administration of inaction when confronted with accusations of internal “bullying” and racially-motivated insults.
Lane confirmed in an email that she and Bonner had received the letter and that “the matter will be investigated.”
According the anonymous writer, a UAPD officer is currently under internal investigation after misusing his power to illegally obtain personal information concerning another police officer, but has not been suspended from the force. The source claims this same officer has previously been disciplined for disobeying a direct order by UAPD administration. According to the letter, the officer was promoted several months after the disciplinary action.
“To my understanding, [the officer] is currently performing his duties as if no violations have occurred,” the letter reads.
The anonymous writer also alleges that when UAPD administration was made aware of incidents of bullying a female officer or race-based bullying, it responded by either taking no action, or reprimanding the parties who reported the incident for insubordination. According to the letter, UAPD administration is aware of a supervisor’s history of “comments concerning the intelligence of [a black officer] and questionable comments concerning his race.” This supervisor, the writer claims, later told other UAPD officers in confidence that he would have the black officer’s “sorry black ass” removed from his assignment.
The letter goes on to identify five examples of internal disciplinary activity within UAPD, outlining an inconsistent standard of enforcement that results in the persecution of some officers, while other officers are “protected, not held accountable for these actions, and are well accustomed to items ‘being swept under the rug.’”
The Crimson White placed phone calls to both Police Chief Tim Summerlin and Assistant Vice President for Public Safety Steve Tucker’s office seeking comment on the letter’s allegations. After being informed both were out of their offices, messages were left with each office requesting a response. Shortly afterwards, UA spokeswoman Cathy Andreen reached out to The Crimson White asking that questions to UA administrators be directed to the UA Office of Media Relations. The Crimson White requested comments from Summerlin and Tucker regarding the letter’s allegations. While neither Summerlin nor Tucker were available for comment, Andreen released an additional statement from Lane.
“Due to the need for confidentiality regarding a pending investigation and out of consideration for the privacy of University employees, it is inappropriate to address the specifics alleged in the anonymous letter or the status of the investigation,” the statement from Lane read. “However, in general, any allegation of improper conduct by UAPD or any other employee is thoroughly investigated.”
In addition to Bonner, Lane, The Crimson White and a number of media outlets, the letter lists the UA Board of Trustees, UA chancellor Robert Witt, the State of Alabama Ethics Commission, the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s Office and the State of Alabama Office of the Attorney General as recipients.