January 17, 2007
Students, cops faulted in Gallaudet protest
From: Washington Times - Washington,DC,USA - Jan 17, 2007
An independent investigation into October's confrontations between deaf students and campus police at Gallaudet University in Northeast says the actions of school officials, campus police and students contributed to the problems.
The report, released Monday, faulted officers and school officials for the campus police force's inadequate training. It says students share some of the blame for blocking officers from entering a university building.
The investigators deemed excessive one case in which officers pushed a student.
The 53-page report by the panel, led by Eric Holder, a former deputy attorney general from the Clinton administration, reviewed the Oct. 6 events involving hundreds of students who occupied a campus building to protest the selection of Jane K. Fernandes as university president.
After the protests escalated, the school's board revoked Mrs. Fernandes' appointment.
University public safety officers, who entered the building to investigate a bomb threat, forced their way past resisting students. The students subsequently claimed police brutality.
The combination of the bomb threat and angry deaf protesters who could not communicate with officers resulted in the altercation, the report found.
Last month, Gallaudet officials said the university would proceed with disciplinary action against students who led protests.
The report recommended that Gallaudet hire more deaf and hard-of-hearing officers, enact mandatory sign-language standards for officers and use sign-language interpreters when communication is a problem. Campus police officers also should be better trained in use of force when responding to protests, it said.
"The report concluded exactly what the students have been saying all along -- that violence occurred as a result of miscommunication and was largely on the part of Department of Public Safety," student Leah Katz-Hernandez wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press.
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