After three armed robbers were reported at an off-campus house on Madbury Court the night of Nov. 28, no emergency alert was issued to the UNH community. But according to UNH Police Chief Paul Dean, the situation was a working investigation that played out differently from past scenarios.
“We’re usually very good at sending these things out, but I need accurate information,” Dean said. Durham Police were the first on scene, as the incident took place off campus.
“Once [Durham Police] got to the scene and conducted the investigation, they didn’t have all the facts,” Dean said. As the victim’s cellphone was stolen, he was forced to flee downtown to find his roommates, which resulted in a delay in reporting.
Dean said the department wanted to issue an alert, but by the time information was confirmed, several hours had passed. In addition, the incident occurred on Thanksgiving break weekend, and most of UNH’s campus was void of student life.
“If you look at the definition of a timely warning, it says it is subject to investigation,” Dean said. “If I put out incorrect information into the community, that’s wrong too. The information needs to go out and it needs to be accurate.”
Dean emphasized that matters were first dealt with by Durham Police and then relayed to UNH Police. UNH Police issue emergency alerts.
“If it was UNH [police department’s] situation and we had all of the information, it would have gone out,” he said.
Dean also referenced past situations, including a November 2014 gun brandishing at the Gables apartments and a September 2014 armed robbery at the Irving Circle K convenience store.
“With the gun at the Gables, we had a guy in custody who said he threw the gun into the woods,” Dean said. “The issue at the Irving station was that the person brandished the gun and he was running towards campus. It was timely, it was on video. That was different. This here, there was a delay in reporting and confirming. There was a lot to go through and nobody wanted to be wrong.”
Dean says the police department is constantly working on improving the efficiency of the emergency alert system and meeting the needs of the student body.