On the Incident Involving a Penn Student and
the Penn Police
FROM THE PRESIDENT
The following message from President Amy Gutmann initially appeared as a letter to the editor, in the Daily Pennsylvanian on Wednesday, December 8, 2004.
Penn derives much of its vitality from our students, who thrive in a University community that embraces diversity, defends intellectual freedom, and strives to make every member of our community feel safe and welcome. Therefore, it is troubling to hear students report that they do not always feel respected and valued during their interactions with other members of our community.
An investigation of what transpired between a Penn student and the Penn Police on November 21 is underway, and I have been promised that this investigation will be concluded shortly. The complaint that was filed raises serious issues, and I have been assured that it is being treated with the care and seriousness that each and every member of our community deserves.
As I indicated to the students with whom I met Monday morning, we must remain eternally vigilant in ensuring both that our campus is safe and that all members of our community are treated with respect and dignity. Therefore, I have asked Interim Provost Peter Conn to work with students, faculty, and staff to begin a dialogue that will lead to specific steps we can take to address our mutual concerns.
The students with whom I met agree that we must confront our challenges head-on and work together constructively toward real resolutions. By continuing to work together we can and will make Penn a University that promotes excellence, equal opportunity, and mutual respect for all members of our community.
—Amy Gutmann, President
Complaint against Police Filed by Mr. Warith Deen M. Madyun on
On November 22, 2004 Mr. Warith Deen M. Madyun personally delivered a Complaint against Police to the Division of Public Safety Headquarters at 4040 Chestnut Street.
The complaint essentially alleges that Mr. Madyun was inappropriately treated by the Penn Police, including being handcuffed, during a police encounter on November 21st. Mr. Madyun and his companions were stopped because they fit the description of a group of youths who had just stolen the property of a Penn employee.
In conducting the investigation, all relative documentation including police patrol logs, PennComm Communication Center’s audio recordings, closed-circuit television recordings and reports were collected and consulted. Twelve interviews were completed, including interviews of the complainant, police personnel, and relevant citizens.
The facts that were ascertained during the investigation were largely consistent:
• First, Mr. Madyun and his companions fit the description of the suspects. The police acting on this information appropriately stopped Mr. Madyun and his friends.
• Second, Mr. Madyun identified himself as a Penn student, and when not immediately released he became increasingly upset. The officer attempted to control the situation by handcuffing Mr. Madyun in order to prevent physical harm to anyone at the scene.
• Third, in a short period of time, the Penn employee was brought to the scene to determine whether these four young men were in fact the males who were involved in the theft. They were not, and they were immediately released. An apology was issued to them.
The Penn Police Department, as well as the entire University, is deeply committed to ensuring the safety and security of all members of our community. We also strive to make the Penn environment a welcoming environment that feels safe for everyone. We understand that we live in a complex society, and there is much more work to be done to achieve this critical goal.
The actions of the Police in this case were within the parameters of Departmental policy. However, the eventual handcuffing of Mr. Madyun may have been avoided if communications and additional resources had been utilized more effectively.
The absolute need for officer safety notwithstanding, policing in the college environment is fraught with the need for tempered thoughts and subsequent action. That is why it is so important to establish a partnership between the Police and the community in order to safeguard the rights, privileges, and safety of all of our community members.
As a result of these findings the Division of Public Safety is redoubling its efforts to address the underlying concerns raised in Mr. Madyun’s complaint. Our new Chief of Police Mark Dorsey is personally committed to implementing key community policing concepts, in concert with the Penn and West Philadelphia communities. Additionally, the entire Division of Public Safety, with the assistance of the Division of Public Safety Advisory Board’s Training Sub-Committee, is participating in enhanced training programs that will improve member’s understanding of and ability to communicate with all members of our community.
—Maureen S. Rush,
Vice President for Public Safety
December 9, 2004
Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 15, December 14, 2004