On 04-03-14, ASUPD botched yet another major call–this time a potentially missing international ASU student.
The student was last seen on the ASU Tempe campus, and this time it’s the job of ASUPD to search for and locate this student instead of the Tempe Police Department. The student’s apartment was filled with personal items someone typically wouldn’t leave behind if they were going somewhere–credit cards, money, purse, phone, and items that would have been of evidentiary value if a crime was involved. Due to this student’s status as an international student, there were not many local contacts available to interview for further information. Additionally, the student’s Facebook and email was being used by someone admitting to be a third party and leaving cryptic messages about the status of the student without giving a location
The direct supervisor of detectives, ASUPD Sergeant Lewis was under the impression a crime had to already be committed to apply for a search warrant in this missing person case. Over the next five days this must have been believed to be true by the commander, assistant chief, and chief closely following this case and overseeing its lack of progress. All the ASUPD Commanders (who are hardly ever at their respective campuses) were running around the Tempe station in a panic, clueless about how to proceed.
What was ASUPD’s solution to finding this missing female student over the next five days? Have patrol Sergeant Macias and Detective Bryner knock on the door of the residence on three separate occasions with negative contact. A brief interview was done with the boyfriend (usually a person of interest in missing persons cases), but nothing was discovered. There was NO extensive search of the jails or hospitals, and no search warrants issued for her residence, phone, email…nothing! After five days with no leads, the case looked increasingly bleak. Instead of searching for more information, ASUPD stopped looking for more leads in this case.
As this investigation grinded to a halt, Chief Pickens (clueless has how to proceed), delegated the responsibility for handling the situation to his two assistant chiefs. Assistant Chief Hardina reacted with a typical ASUPD response: let’s not enter it into NCIC…let’s give it to Tempe PD! His counterpart, Assistant Chief Thompson (with experience from a legitimate police agency) decided to enter it into NCIC and work the case like a responsible, capable, police department would. There was an internal debate raging on the third floor; should ASUPD continue to work this stagnant missing persons case, or should ASUPD hand it over to Tempe (where the student resided)? This was a last ditch attempt to avoid any more negative press about ASU.
When Tempe PD was notified of the missing person case (and how ASUPD failed to make any headway in the case), they immediately demanded a meeting with ASUPD’s Command Staff. Commander Michele Rourke was given the task of meeting Tempe PD to answer for ASUPD’s incompetence. However, at the last minute, a search of the local jails was done and the student was located; the meeting with Tempe PD was subsequently canceled.
This is further proof that ASUPD is incapable of handling a major incident on campus, due solely to incompetent leadership and an understaffed (and undertrained!) police department.