ASU’s sexual assault problem: How ASU’s admin and PD failed

Sexual Assault article article Page 1

On Sunday, November 23rd, The Arizona Republic’s investigative journalist Anne Ryman exposed Arizona State University’s sexual assault problem; namely, how sexual assaults that occur at on campus are less likely to result in an arrest/conviction versus the same type of incident occurring off campus. The article also focuses on processes external to the criminal case–namely filing a complaint with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Title IX requirements–as well as personal stories from two sexual assault survivors.

Due to the vast amount of information discussed in Ms. Ryman’s article, we will be narrowing the scope of this post to explore factors that contribute to ASUPD’s disproportionately low sexual assault case clearance and conviction rate. According to the article:

From 2011 to 2013, ASU police investigated 43 forcible sex offenses, a category which includes sexual assault and sexual abuse, with two cases ending in convictions, according to police. A 2012 case is still under review for possible charges by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Police said victims declined to prosecute in 17 of the cases and nine cases submitted to the county were turned down or did not proceed based on “no likelihood of conviction.”

Nationally, among the public at large, one-fifth of sexual assaults reported to police result in prosecution, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ). Of those who are prosecuted, about half are convicted of felonies.

Using the average case clearance rates provided by the DoJ, approximately 9 out of the 43 forcible sex offenses reported to ASUPD should result in conviction; however ASUPD had only two cases ending in conviction, with one more under review by the county attorney. Even if the 17 cases where the victim’s declined to aid in prosecution are thrown out of the equation, ASUPD’s case prosecution rates still fell below the DoJ averages. Compare ASUPD’s case clearance and conviction rate to that of the Tempe Police Department:

In 2013, Tempe police identified 13 cases that involved ASU students assaulted off campus and made arrests in three of those cases, documents say.

Tempe PD’s case clearance rates are consistent with the aforementioned DoJ prosecution rates of sexual assaults.

Why is there a significant discrepancy between the rates of arrest/prosecution of ASUPD’s sex assault cases compared to Tempe PD’s cases?

  • Failures in department leadership:
    • Department leadership may not view sex crimes as a serious problem compared to other types of crime, and may divert resources to other areas they view as more important (ASUPD emphasizes steps to avoid bike theft, as well as diverting department resources, such as personnel, to curtail the problem). Undoubtedly a major contributing factor under the Pickens-era leadership.
  • Negligent supervision:
    • Officers/detectives who are not properly supervised may not receive the on-the spot feedback needed to prevent similiar mistakes from happening in the future.
    • If a supervisor does not take interest in investigating a sex crime thoroughly, it shows subordinate employees that sex crimes are not important.
    • Employees may feel entitled/empowered to do whatever they want, because they are lacking adequate supervision.
      • This may or may not explain Sergeant T. Lewis’ abrupt removal from CIB under Chief Thompson.
  • Poor training:
    • Officers should receive additional sexual assault first responder training; most officers don’t receive additional training outside of the academy.
    • Officers should understand and be able to properly collect and impound physical evidence–while thoroughly adhering to procedures pertaining to chain of custody–so it may be preserved for future lab testing.
    • Detectives should receive ongoing, specialized training in interview techniques, evidence collection and preservation, as well as familiarity with laws pertaining to sex crimes.
      • Due to the frequency of sex related crimes on campus, sex crimes should comprise the “bread and butter” of investigations!
      • According to police reports released to The Arizona Republic, ASUPD only utilized a confrontation call ONCE in a three year time frame.
    • “Guilty until proven innocent” mindset of some detectives, characterized by: an emphasis that stranger rape is the only real rape; a belief that nonstranger sexual assault is not as serious as stranger rape and is often the victim‘s fault; statements that any victim inconsistency ruins her credibility; an emphasis on the ubiquity of false reporting and victims‘ lack of cooperation (cited from a 2012 DoJ research study).
    • Detectives have to WANT to work sex crimes cases, or they are at risk for developing the “guilty until proven innocent” approach.
    • Research revealed that often the cases that are presented to the County Attorney before an arrest is made are cases that have not been thoroughly investigated by law enforcement and are presented to the County Attorney in anticipation of a “reject”.
      • Half-assed criminal investigations are given to the County Attorney knowing they will be turned down
    • Whether a suspect is arrested should NOT be contingent on whether the prosecuting attorney believes that the case would result in a jury conviction

 Why did Arizona State University fail to release 19 sex assault reports to The Arizona Republic?

We’ve identified some possible reasons that may contribute to the disproportionate number of sex assault cases that are resolved at ASU (when compared to the City of Tempe), but we still do not have the complete picture. Arizona State University refused to release all public records requested by The Arizona Republic‘s Anne Ryman. There are a total of 19 cases and 36 victims that ASU is legally obligated to release to the media, but ASU’s defense is that the cases are”still under investigation” and that releasing the names of the victims could cause “flashbacks:”.

Let’s be real honest here, folks: it is extremely unlikely a case from three years ago is still under investigation, unless the case had zero leads and was deliberately left open “pending any new information”. Also, given the university’s track record of victim-blaming (there is a wealth of information on ASU’s mistreatment of sex assault victims here), it is also unlikely that ASU magically grew a heart and decided to give a shit about students who were sexually assaulted.

The real reason? The talking heads over at the Fulton Center (Michael Crow, Morgan Olsen) panicked over The Arizona Republic‘s public requests request. They both knew–or had reason to know–that the university was likely to incur more negative media coverage due to the mismanagement of the PD under Pickens. Both knew that Ryman would most likely uncover a bunch of poorly-written, half-assed sexual assault reports, and that if Ryman contacted the victims in each report, they would most likely express displeasure at how their case was handled by ASUPD. Sensing extreme defeat in the court of public opinion, Crow and Olsen resorted to their usual tactic: fighting with a slew of publicly funded lawyers. Even though the legal battle has been underway since July (with the university standing their ground), Ryman still managed to embarrass the university with the information she was able to obtain. The public has a right to know the truth about public safety mismanagement.

ASUPD has made significant leaps forward since the departure of Pickens; Chief Thompson has, thus far, been able to clean up some of Pickens’ messes. However, many of Pickens’ failures to properly manage the department have led directly to ASU’s administration. Therefore, if Crow/Olsen/Salcido do not allow the PD to function independently of the university, no amount of proper leadership under Thompson will be able to salvage ASUPD. Thompson has enough problems dealing with Pickens’s incompetent command that was left behind.

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24 thoughts on “ASU’s sexual assault problem: How ASU’s admin and PD failed

  1. Embudo says:

    Some ASU administrators and some ASU PD employees are in a pickle.

  2. popo39machine says:

    Too many times these botched or never done investigations are the result of people within ASUPD who default to “the county attorney standard”. They aren’t willing to do the work on the front end because of their perception, inclination, that the county attorney won’t prosecute.

    Judging how ASUPD management has allowed detectives to run for years, with former asupd commanders or sergeants coming from there, I’m not surprised this is all coming out. The only surprise is that it took this long.

    • Getitright says:

      The people making the decisions for this legal issue over the years collectively have less schooling than a lawyer.

  3. njosnavelin says:

    I hope all the lazy pieces of shit in defectives (do I really need to name names?) are running scared. The days of two hour long lunches are gone, my friends.

  4. DL500unit says:

    Unfortunately all the time spent chasing the enigma of bike thievery hasn’t put a dent in sex crimes at the #1 party campus. The record of failure and liability keeps stacking up.

    The fact is no formal training happened for ASUPD on handling sexual assaults until the Arizona Republic started their investigation on sexual assault at ASU and how it was poorly handled by ASUPD. The university was handed FOIA requests and said, “Oh shit, do something, do it now, we need to look like we care.” How Kevin Salcido has handled complaints on the issue paints a much different story.

    Even then our training at ASUPD was done on computer via Microsoft PowerPoint with only detectives going to an azpost certified class. Again, ASU only cares when image is at stake and offers a knee jerk reaction to what should have been handled before the media needed to get involved.

    People are getting away with sexual assaults, setting up drug manufacturing in their dorms, mugged, stealing everything, and with the reputation of our agency they feel emboldened to do it repeatedly because the odds are on their side.

    When you have a leadership deficiency at McDonald’s the fries might end up too greasy, the order wait time might be too long. When you have a leadership deficiency at a police department that goes unchecked for years then this is what happens.

    This isn’t McDonald’s, but for ASU command it doesn’t matter. They get paid regardless of performance because this is all about appearing to function like a police department without having to so.

    • ThySummons says:

      The university’s leadership has a reputation for rewarding abject failure.

      Where is the former chief that is responsible for the current pathetic state of affairs in the ASUPD? Still working in the university thanks to Morgan Olsen & Co.

      Any other healthy well-run institution would have put John Pickens out to pasture long ago and told him to enjoy retirement.

      Good job, Morgan Olsen & Co! The taxpayers really appreciate that kind of strategic move.

    • Getitright says:

      “If they don’t like working here, McDonald’s is always hiring.” Sound familiar?

    • Quick call Tempe! says:

      The only winners are the criminals and the do nothing command of this department taking home a % of the PD annual budget in excess of their contributions. That’s it, everyone else loses.

    • ASUPDsmokeNmirrors says:

      Bike theft is priority #1! We have extensive literature about it, videos, online reach out programs, the bike registry. We have a bait bike and full time lecturing on the issue of bikes with 2 people in crime prevention. We even have the “b.a.t.” report tracking bike theft hot zones which repeatedly shows everywhere since bike racks are everywhere.

      We can’t cover patrol shifts and sorry about the sexual predators. Maybe we should have done some confrontation calls instead of fucking around on the clock?

  5. Getitright says:

    Detectives used to be an exclusive clique ran social club before they either promoted to sgt or above. Afterwards they stuck exclusively to our pathetic firearms program. At least they were able to use the free time of not solving cases to plan trips, have extended lunches, and joke around. Saying they did nothing wouldn’t be accurate.

    They established a pattern. A pattern of protectionism, underperforming, and over rewarding for their group of associates. This cronyism completely turned off scores of employees who have come and gone to departments that hold true to their stated code of ethics.

    Former Chief Pickens encouraged it because it allowed him to deligate every part of his job minus showing up to some meetings, lunch, watching ball games, and taking leave with athletics. He was a “what can I do for myself leader” who surrounded himself with yes men stooges who are all about themselves. Does this sound like any successful example of leadership you’ve heard of?

    Thank you for continuing to cronical this tolerated mess and not letting these “Adam Henry’s” skate free. The reporters, especially Anne Ryman, have done the public a service by looking for answers to these problems and the people responsible for them.

  6. Quick call Tempe! says:

    Wondering why this latest steaming embarrassment burning on the porch?!? Like so many other avenues in this agency the best people leave. The best detectives and potential defectives left and now we have defectives.

    “Detective” Cpl Dunwoody is never there doing detective work unless it’s looking for lunch. He’s showing up late, leaving early doing “training” with a bomb dog when we need a drug dog. When I think of a dog handler I think of someone who can keep up with their dog without coding out.

    “Detective” Bryner had a mere year on the road before landing the appointment. Can anyone say training by watching Law & Order SVU? Dan Guaghan realized it was more than he could handle after a few months.

    Our poor department can’t separate the weenies from the warriors or the constructive people from the destructive. One has always been attacking the other to get us where we are today, on the full color front page of the Arizona Republic 5 pages deep.

    The rotten fruit spoiled the bunch and rose to the top. The years of continual turnover, understaffing, and low morale are the unmistakable proof. If we retained the people who left and succeeded outside the department they would have excelled here and kept this department straight on target and showing others the way. Leadership…

    • ASUPDsmokeNmirrors says:

      The selection process that took place under Pickens before this last one is baffling. How completely idiotic does the head of a police department have to be to hand over a detective position to someone who just finished their first year of probation and has no prior law enforcement experience?

      We have people with nearly ten times that experience getting denied for it. If someone is unwilling to put their time in on patrol, what type of detective will they be? Another smooth move. I wonder who Pickens will find to do his work for him as the head of a tech based department he knows nothing about?

    • WheresMy907 says:

      You had me at Arizona Republic 5 pages deep. That should be the wake up call for all the people saying there’s no problem no matter what they’ve seen thus far.

  7. ASUPDsmokeNmirrors says:

    In the picture you ask the question, “Is front page reality settling in yet Michael Crow?” It looks as if that answer is a definite NO.

    What has he done to fix ASU PD? Shuffle Pickens to athletics? No change. Host a national mock hiring attempt for chief and the top three are an in house guy and two guys from New York? No change.

    Pickens shuffled commanders around, now Thompson shuffled commanders around. No change.

    All the people who damaged this agency are still here like nothing happened and free to work the system and continue business as usual. No change.

    The investigation arm of the department gets exposed and what does they do? Shuffle sergeants around and throw some online training up. No change.

    We have had a “staffing” issue for years because they willfully ignored it as a retention issue for years. What’s the answer? Just keep hiring, training, perpetually for years. No change.

    Perpetuating problems while believing them to be solutions is raw stupidity. These were the kids smacking the square peg through the round hole until someone told them to stop. Stubborn, prideful, and full of indignation.

    These out of touch administrators need someone to tell them to stop. The governor, ABOR, the legislature, lawsuits, the increasingly aware public, investigative journalists, this blog, other blogs. Change.

    Change in the ASUPD, the failed leadership, and the destructive internal culture is what’s going to reduce and prevent students from becoming victimized. More smoke and mirrors public relations and symbolic gestures just prolong the problem and ensure more publicity about the unresolved issues.

    • WheresMy907 says:

      Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Nobody is checking their work and nobody has ever checked their work until now. The university administration knows as much about running a police department as they do about flying a space shuttle, absolutely nothing. These media exposures don’t just come out of nowhere. There’s a good reason for it and some finger pointing that goes with it.

      This story on sexual assaults is nothing new, this has been going on for years, but it’s the first time an professional journalist looked at the problem. It’s after employees became sick of how asupd has been mismanaged and actually did something about it. It took fed up people with backbone, intelligence, and integrity to lift up this old rock and expose the bottom feeders responsible for dropping the ball here and all the way down field.

      When officers see sergeants joke about sexual assaults they aren’t taking seriously what trend is that going to set for first level investigations?

      Somebody already mentioned the county attorney standard being applied in the field, but nobody mentioned how our chronic staffing issues have affected the quality of police work. How about how our turnover and the percentage of inexperienced officers results in lower quality work?

      When victims want to look for blame beyond the suspect they can blame the people responsible for our decade of turnover and stagnant growth. They can blame the people who rewarded brown noser buddies over people with the ability and drive to do the job. There’s a difference and every news report is a confirmation of it.

      I’m immensely proud of my brothers who made a difference by exposing those who perverted this law enforcement agency by turning it into a whore house with police powers. I wish we could look forward to department changes under new leadership, but that remains to be seen. I guess the public will have to settle for business as usual. I won’t. I’m willing to bet many of the new hires filling the roster won’t either. They never have.

    • JustTheFacts says:

      The university doesn’t get it, so this continues. If you ignore problems long enough they snowball. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. They put too much faith in their public relations smoke screen and where are the dividends? Fire the person who made that call.

    • yolo says:

      There is no good reason not to fix issues relating to issues of public safety, but none of these people get it. Look at the way they do things over and over. They are reactionary. When the stories break in the news how they messed something up, they engage in cover-up, spin, denial, lie, and start a too little too late campaign. It’s a high price to pay for pride, but they’re not the one’s paying it. The ASU public is.

  8. yurhuckleberry says:

    This is a very disturbing topic for a number of reasons. Some are nation-wide trends, but the most disturbing relate to issues that we do have control over and yet do nothing about. The fact that one in five women is a victim of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault while in college is disturbing. The fact that Arizona State University is the largest university in the nation and is widely regarded as a party school makes this especially concerning. Why wouldn’t this university have the best resources available for curtailing and handling these issues?

    The largest university in the nation has a 3rd string police department that’s struggled with staffing issues, training issues, university growth, and overall mismanagement since Michael Crow took his leadership position and appointed John Pickens as police chief. Rarely have we had anyone with experience in detectives actually doing detective work. It’s been a joke, a cushy position where people with very little police experience and usually no outside agency experience set their own hours, clock in and screw around. They put the burden of the investigation on the first responding officer who runs call to call with little time for follow-up on these issues, especially with the frequent holes in our staffing. This is especially alarming when you consider how green many of our officers are. When you have a department clique running amuck within your agency certain people get assistance, backup, and others don’t.

    Complaints to ASU’s student-discipline office have exploded. ASU received 27 allegations of sexual violence and/or other non-consensual sexual contact just in the last year. The total for the previous four years was 38. University officials attribute the increase to growing enrollment and more awareness of how to report allegations. Both of these explanations make sense, but there is one that wasn’t mentioned. Word of mouth, word gets around. Good people talk, bad people talk. Good people talk about the news as casually as bad people talk about their crimes together. Word gets around about the ASUPD’s inability to combat crime at the university and criminals feel emboldened to do what they do best. It’s a legitimacy crisis.

    Do we have bad officers? No. We have too officers, we have far too few experienced ones, and this has always been the case. ASU police department growth lags far behind campus growth and is grossly outclassed by university police departments who police a fraction of our people. The university administration gas been aware of this for years under former chief John What-can-I-do-for-myself Pickens and they have done nothing to fix it until employees revolted online and the news media picked up the scent on the trail. Will this affect the legitimacy of the Arizona State University Police Department? We hope it brings awareness to ignored legitimacy issues so we can earn and build legitimacy as a police department. The public we are sworn to protect deserve more than advertising that states we are something we’re not.

    All ASUPD employees spent 8 hours in two part classes talking about issues relating to the legitimacy of a police department in the eyes of the public they serve. What does it say about our legitimacy when sexual abusers and rapists feel free to victimize our students? The numbers for these issues are increasing dramatically just in the last year. What does it say about our legitimacy when criminals who specialize in any crime repeatedly come back to ASU knowing that for every arrest we make they can repeatedly get away with the crime many time over before we arrest them again? Does this affect our ASUPD legitimacy? It sure does.

    Apparently drug dealers love ASU because students frequently get anything they want to try and get high on, try and get hooked on, or OD on. Sure we have tier 1 researchers hard at work here, but the majority are the tier 0 ones on the 80% acceptance plan at the parties conducting their own extra-curricular research with marijuana, alcohol, ecstasy, heroine, prescription drugs, meth, and the list goes on. The dorms stink of marijuana and it’s not so easy to pinpoint where it’s coming from when too many people are smoking it and not answering their doors. It’s a good thing we have a half-assed “bomb” dog with an over-weight handler instead of a kennel full of drug dogs and cross trained dogs like other universities. Does this affect our ASUPD legitimacy? It sure does.

    University officials don’t find suspects responsible for code of conduct violations in the majority of their cases, despite using a lower burden of proof than the criminal-justice system. Of 37 students at ASU who were found responsible only 10 were expelled. Money talks and victims take second place. Again, criminals hang out with and talk to other criminals. Does this affect our ASUPD legitimacy? It sure does.

    The public has a misconception that you need to be poor or on the street to be a criminal. Our under-policed college campus proves that wrong every year. Privileged young men and women come to school here and commit many crimes against one-another. This is a consequence of being known for not rejecting anyone, including people who had prior issues with sexual misconduct. The Arizona State University will say they are just trying to give people a second chance. The question we should be asking is, “To do what? Go to college?” Clearly that wasn’t important in the first place. Give them a second chance to give the university more money, because we’re willing to take the chance they won’t be a second or third time offender is a more honest answer. Does this affect our ASUPD legitimacy? It sure does.

    The Republic found one ASU case with references to a tape-recorded call out of 14 cases in which a suspect was identified from 2011 to 2013. Police have not yet released another 19 cases requested by The Republic during this time frame, saying some of those cases are still under investigation. ASU, in a statement, did not comment on the use of tape-recorded calls, saying police use a series of investigative techniques to obtain evidence. Apparently one of the most effective and common techniques for obtaining convictions isn’t one of the techniques except in one case. Does this affect our ASUPD legitimacy? It sure does.

    A federal law called Title IX requires schools that get federal financial assistance to take steps to prevent sexual assault on their campuses. Schools also must respond promptly and effectively when an assault is reported. This includes completing investigations within the recommended 60 days and conducting impartial investigations, with opportunities for both parties to present witnesses and evidence. ASU refused to hand over 19 cases from 2011 to 2013 by saying they were still under investigation as we are less than a month from 2015. Does this affect our ASUPD legitimacy? It sure does.

    The university treats people making complaints like shit unless they pose a threat to the university. When one of the victims in this story was told the university wouldn’t be able to tell her whether the accused student was disciplined, she threatened to call an attorney. Her case representative called back and said the university could disclose the outcome. Again money and fear of embarrassment in the media gets a response. Do all these issues affect the legitimacy of the university as a whole? They sure do.

    Does the reputation of a Arizona State University suffer when it continues to break the law regarding public information it has an obligation to release? ASU has billed itself as “The New American University” and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the university administration doesn’t know what the hell “American” means.

    Look at this latest article “Was ASU protecting victims’ names or breaking the law?” by Stuart Warner, a senior content manager and Pulitzer Prize-winning editor working for the Arizona Republic.

    • DontLOLmeJP says:

      If I was religious I might have to wonder if they sold their souls. I am however convinced they are assholes who will lie, cheat, and steal to portray the results they want everyone to believe regardless of the truth. Besides being liars, cheets, and thieves they are also lazy and feel entitled. They want things they don’t have and don’t believe they need to work for them. Redickulous.

    • JustTheFacts says:

      Nailed it! The AZ Republic is getting a taste of the corruption we know all too well. ASU refused to hand over 19 cases from 2011 to 2013 by saying they were still under investigation. Are they really?!?

      Or are they simply unsolved and marked “pending” indefinitely?What happened to completing the investigation in 60 days? We are talking about cases ranging from nearly 2-4 years old!

      If the victims were someone close to Michael Crow, Morgan Olsen, or Kevin Salcido all the stops would be pulled out. One of their friend’s cars gets stolen years back and they purchased 10’s of thousands of dollars worth of police equipment to put two license plate readers on patrol cars.

      As staff were having trouble getting “bullet proof” vests and basic equipment, patrol wasn’t getting raises for years, this fool’s errand fell flat because the readers needed to be taken to DPS and frequently updated. More time, care, and energy went into this than was ever put into investigating a sexual assault at this university.

    • Embudo says:

      Michael Crow, Morgan Olsen and Kevin Salcido, you three are incredibly misguided individuals.

      Shame on you three for how you deliberately operate an institution with deception and lack of transparency.

      Having no apparent compunction for how you willfully and deliberately deceive the public is truly incomprehensible to the average citizen.

      Continuing to expose your deceptive and pernicious methods of operation in a public forum is poetic justice.

      Thank you Anne Ryman, Stuart Warner and countless others for continuing to expose ASU and ASU PD publicly.

    • ThySummons says:

      Let go of your hubris a second and think about it, Mike Crow, Morgan Olsen and Kevin Salcido.

      As so often in history, greatness led to hubris, and hubris to catastrophe.

    • yolo says:

      That’s it and like so many other things the voices of opposition are silent because they would have to argue a indefensible point. Maybe it’s time to hire more public relations folk?

      Those 19 cases they refused to release would have put a spotlight on more issues. As a result of the investigation by the AZ Republic the Sgt over detectives, T Lewis, was replaced with Sgt J Thompson who previously worked in detectives. This occurred the week before the story broke in the paper.

      This Sgt worked in this capacity for years under the same leadership we have now. If he’s to blame for anything why doesn’t the blame ever go up the chain to our mediocre command?

      It’s nearly unanimous among the troops, Chief ChiefJohn Pickens represented everything you don’t want in leadership. Despite this his single minded plan of hiring more and more bodies without addressing the underlying issues that make people leave remain.

    • OneFlewOverTheCuckoo'sPD says:

      yolo, so true, so true.

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