Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Why is this on the UVSC Police Website?

It has been nearly six months since UVSC student Kidus Yohannes was arrested for allegedly falsifying information on a firearms form. Currently he sits in Utah County Jail awaiting trial.

At the time of his arrest UVSC Police posted Yohannes's mugshot on their website, warning students that if they saw him on campus to call police. It seemed to make sense at the time...Yohannes's roommates had claimed that the Ethiopian immigrant had made threats against police and the military. The shootings at Virginia Tech were still fresh on everyone's minds.

But why does the UVSC Police department feel it necessary to still have Yohannes's mugshot on their page? And why does it include the caption "made terroristic threats and was aquiring weapons."

Beyond the poor spelling, the statement is potentially libelous. Yohannes has never been formally charged with making threats. As for acquiring weapons, he passed the necessary background checks with both alien ID numbers he used. So while he is being held on charges of falsifying permit documents, he did acquire the weapons legally.

Regardless, he has not been found guilty of anything just yet. But the Police website doesn't mention "charges" or "allegedly". They simply state that he made threats and was acquiring weapons. And by allowing this libelous statement to be viewable on the school's website UVSC could be sued.

And why is he on the website to begin with? He is in jail and thus currently poses no threat to the campus. It is almost like they are bragging about nabbing this guy, but they weren't the ones who arrested him in the first place. The arrest was made by Orem City...not UVSC campus police.

In the Pipeline's opinion this whole thing goes back to a much simpler issue: UVSC campus police are bored to tears.

For example, back during the whole Michael Moore hoopla in '04 there was a meeting that took place where the logistics of the speaking engagement were planned out. An administrator at the dean level told The Pipeline that then Police Chief Tracy Marrott asked if the campus police should wear their SWAT gear (not riot gear mind you...SWAT gear!). When he was told that their regular uniforms would suffice, Marrott apparently said something to the effect of "But if not now, when?"

Perhaps it was idle hands, itching for some action, that posted this erroneous information about Kidus Yohannes.

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