On Monday, Sept. 10, the APSU Police Department was informed of an alleged robbery thought to have taken place on campus during the midnight hours. Instantly, text and email alerts went out in order to protect student safety and warn them about the incident.
The email alert was very thorough in including security precautions that individuals should take in order to prevent these types of occurrences from happening. The email included the number to the police department and instructions for how to stay safe when encountering potentially dangerous situations.
According to the Clery Act, qualifying incidents reported to university police are required to be annually published and made available to the campus community.
However, it did lack a decent description of the suspects who had immediately fled the scene. The suspects were described as allegedly being African American, one wearing a tricolored hoodie and wielding a handgun. No description of the other two were given other than race.
This in no way reflects badly on the APSU Police Department, Chief Michael J. Kasitz or the victim who gave the description. This is an issue that has continuously appeared in the news media. Depictions of young men should not come down to their race and what they are wearing. In Feb. 2017, Kent State University received complaint from students for issuing an alert of a robbery near the campus and vaguely describing the suspect by his race and a hoodie.
The alert outraged Kent State students, especially those who identified as African American males because they could have been easily mistaken by police as the culprit. Another major hole in this description is that the incident took place during the winter where there is hardly anyone not wearing a hoodie.
This can be troubling for those who fit this description through no fault of their own. At any time, someone can turn on their local news and hear about a suspect on the run described as “wearing a hoodie.” They do not provide much more information besides race which leads to profiling.
The “black male wearing a hoodie” accounts may not seem like much of an issue to some people but imagine being in a local mall and getting an alert about a threat nearby. The first thing to pop up on the screen, “suspect to be wearing a hoodie.” What would the first instinct be? To call the police because there are several people who fit the description or to flee because you, too, fit the police report? The description of a suspect should be given in full.
Students, especially young men, should not be afraid that they could be escorted off campus because they fit the profile of a suspect. They should not be afraid to walk the grounds of their school’s campus or even in the real world because they are looked at as public enemy number one.