PC Security Misconduct
The following incidents represent misconduct on behalf of members of the Providence College Office of Safety and Security. Over the course of the year, members of this department have exhibited a vapid lack of professionalism and concern for student rights. One would think that the officers vested with the responsibility of protecting students would advocate for them and help them to resolve potential conflicts in a positive manner.
Security Sergeant commits misdemeanor and opens student mail without consent
Student Fears Safety Due to Actions of Security Sergeant
On Sunday, February 7th, around 1:00am, the Office of Safety and Security launched an investigation regarding a male student having received a harassment complaint. PC Security Sergeant John Dunbar was dispatched to the student’s dorm room to determine his location. Upon arriving at the dormroom, Dunbar entered the room without knocking, completely invading the privacy of the individuals who reside in the room. Once in the room, Dunbar proceeded to scream at the residents to get out of their respective bedrooms. It was determined that the suspected student was not in the dorm. Dunbar stated to the individuals present in the room, “I am conducting an investigation.” When the student’s roommates inquired further as to what type of investigation he was conducting, Dunbar replied, “an investigation.” During the incident, everyone in the dorm room remained compliant even after being extremely startled and unaware of what was going on.
As Dunbar began checking the identification of the students in the room, one resident stated that the tone and level of volume of Dunbar’s voice was taken to a point where he did not feel safe in his own room. At one point, two of the residents felt physically threatened by Dunbar due to his intimidating demeanor. According to a female student who was present in the room, when she failed to find her identification quickly, it caused Dunbar to continue to harass and debase her. This student made every effort to search for her ID but still could not find it. The complaint stated that for the duration of the investigation, this student remained on the couch crying and shaking as Dunbar continued to yell at the other individuals in the room. When one of the residents of the room told Dunbar to stop yelling at his friend, Dunbar replied, “I am going to go out of my way to make sure you never graduate and are kicked out of this school.” In a complaint filed with the College the next week, the reporting student stated, “At this point, as I feared for both the safety of myself and my own roommates, I remained quiet.”
The behavior of behalf of Sgt. Dunbar is not consistent with the mission statement and familial atmosphere promoted by Providence College.
Providence College’s Response to Security Conduct: PC Security informed the student that disciplinary action was taken.
Student Tackled and Berated by Security Sergeant
On Saturday, March 20th, between the hours of 2:00AM-3:00AM, several Providence College students witnessed an exchange between one of their peers and PC Security Sergeant John Dunbar. The incident, which began near the parking lot behind Fennell Hall and ended in front of the Smith Center for the Arts, involved Sgt. Dunbar following a student in an Office of Safety and Security vehicle. As Dunbar pursued the student, he rapidly accelerated the vehicle and swerved several times coming extremely close to striking the student with the moving vehicle on more than one occasion. The student continued to run toward the quad when he fell to the ground, prompting Sergeant Dunbar to immediately exit the vehicle. Students witnessed Sergeant Dunbar jump on top of the student to pin him down while proceeding to yell very loudly, “Get on the (expletive) ground,” two times. Then, Dunbar picked the student up off of the ground and continued to yell, “Get against the (expletive) car.” Moments later another security guard arrived on the scene. This incident was witnessed by several nearby students and was also heard by students living on the upper floors of the Suites Hall. The student was subsequently transported to an area hospital presumably having been found to be under the influence of alcohol.
During the week prior to the incident, Jon Dooley, President of the Student Advocacy Organization emailed Fr. Brendan Murphy, OP, Vice President for Student Affairs. Having knowledge that Sergeant Dunbar was recently involved in a misconduct investigation where he was accused of exhibiting threatening and intimidating behavior to a student, Jon sought to relay this new incident to Father Murphy, as the office of Safety and Security report directly to his office.
The following is an excerpt from the email sent to Fr. Murphy from Dooley.
“Although I certainly recognize that alcohol complicates situations and that confrontations may create stressful situations, Sergeant Dunbar’s conduct is not consistent with the mission statement of Providence College. The language used by Sergeant Dunbar was not only unprofessional, but also offensive to myself and my peers. Is this the type of image that we want to send to prospective students who are visiting Providence College? Sergeant Dunbar’s abusive and hostile behavior compromises the integrity of the Office of Safety and Security and puts the welfare of students at risk….I do not understand how this behavior would be tolerated at Providence College. Students are at risk by an employee of the College who supposedly is vested with the responsibility of protecting them. One would think that this excessive action on a student would perhaps occur in a very undesirable place….but not at Providence College.”
Providence College’s Response to Security Conduct: Fr. Murphy read this email at 2:00pm on March 23 (a read receipt of the email was generated) but chose not to answer.
Student Harassed and Intimidated by Safety and Security
Following an incident in McPhails, Providence College’s on-campus bar, the Office of Safety and Security launched an investigation regarding a male student who was implicated in a vandalism charge as a result of the incident. Over the course of the following two weeks, members of the Office of Safety and Security waited outside said student’s classes, left him harassing voice messages, and visited the student’s house off campus where they banged on his front door repeatedly for several minutes. The student was never informed of why PC Security Officers were investigating him, instead he was instructed via voicemail, “stop hiding, we know what you did.” Members of this Office communicated to the student that “it was an investigation” and that they “needed to speak with him immediately.” Having been intimidated and fearing his safety, the student did not establish communication with this Office until he had sought legal counsel. While this investigation was going on, the Office of Student Conduct never contacted the student to notify him that he may receive sanctions from the College. Upon receiving an email notice from Student Conduct weeks after the investigation, the student promptly reported to the Dean as required. After a month, the student was processed through the Rhode Island court system and his case was dismissed.
The intimidation tactics employed by Providence College Security Officers are not consistent with the message of Providence College.
Providence College’s Response to Security Conduct: NONE
Nepotism Allows for Police Witch Hunt on Campus
In November 2008, Jack Leyden, Director of the Office of Safety and Security, participated in an investigation involving two students who were faced with criminal charges off-campus. The first student was asked to come to the Security Office where he was interrogated by a Rhode Island State Police Detective in the presence of Leyden. Prior to this incident, Leyden had given out a course schedule of this student and allowed Rhode Island State Police Detectives to wait outside the student’s class. As students were exiting the class, they were randomly asked by detectives if they were (student’s name). A week later, Leyden allowed Rhode Island State Police Detectives to visit the room of the second suspected student. Though the student was not in the room at his time, all of his peers in the dorm were alerted to the fact that he was subject to an investigation by State Police. After a week, the second student was asked to report to the Office of Safety and Security having received a voicemail message stating that “Major Leyden needed to speak with him.” Upon arriving at the Office, the student was taken into a back room where he met with Leyden and two Rhode Island State Police Detectives. The student was advised that failure to cooperate with the investigation would be detrimental to his standing in the College. Said student was then escorted off campus and taken to the police barracks for investigation. When the student’s parent called Leyden to inquire about the situation, Leyden informed the parent that the students would likely be expelled from school. Misdemeanor criminal charges stemmed from this incident. Both cases were dismissed after a month without having to go to trial. The students received no disciplinary sanctions through the College.
It should be noted that the charges involved were not crimes of violence and therefore, the students posed no risk to the Providence College community. A simple investigation for minor criminal charges was allowed to get completely out of hand by Leyden. Prior to coming to Providence College, Leyden had served in his capacity as a Rhode Island State Police Officer for twenty-four years. Therefore, he had previously worked with these detectives on the force for several years and as a result enabled his “friends” to conduct a witch hunt on campus. His nepotistic behavior put the safety of students at risk and allowed for an egregious violation of rights.
*Following this incident, a parent of one of the students involved contacted administrators within the Office of Student Affairs. Both the parent and student spoke with the Rev. Brendan Murphy, Vice President of Student Affairs, though no resolution was met. The student was instructed that Student Affairs would look into the situation yet there has been no accountability to date.
Providence College’s Response to Security Conduct: NONE