On Monday afternoon, K-9 units arrived on campus. Rochester Police Department cars parked at Hill Court, and drug-sniffing dogs began milling through the area.
At the same time, routine fire marshal checks were underway on campus. These sometimes result in the marshal opening a student’s door themselves after knocking, if the student doesn’t open the door.
In the midst of these unrelated visits, rumors quickly swirled through the student body. A popular one was that RPD (on a tip from DPS) was breaking down doors to confiscate pot, and that one student was arrested for possessing a copious amount.
Student-provided evidence the Campus Times received shows RPD officers were parked on campus by 1:30 p.m. and were gone by 2:20 p.m. Shortly after the K-9 visit, Director of Public Safety Mark Fischer emailed the school, saying there had been an unannounced K-9 training exercise near Hill Court, that it was all conducted outside, and that there had been no police activity — such as an arrest.
At least 40 posts on the Facebook page “Ever better memes for meliora teens” have been made in response to these campus visits and DPS’ email. Many called DPS liars. Students were incredulous at the idea of an “unannounced training exercise.”
One meme, using a “Drake & Josh” scene as a template, has DPS (Drake) ask, “Are you calling me a liar?” The UR students (Josh) respond, “I ain’t callin’ you a truther!” Several students opted for a surprised Pikachu face instead. Just a handful of posts questioned these rumors, citing lack of evidence.
Though video of a drug bust was said by some students on the page to be in circulation, none has surfaced.
When CT asked Fischer and RPD Captain Mark Mura about the incident, they said there was no arrest. They also agreed the exercise was, in Mura’s words, an “error in judgement” by the sergeant who led RPD’s K-9 unit, because he didn’t clear the visit with anyone at the school beforehand.
“I’ve never had that happen in seven-and-a-half years here,” Fischer said of the surprise visit.
Mura, who commands the Genesee Section of RPD, said he wasn’t notified of the presence at UR beforehand or initially, but that he doesn’t directly oversee the K-9 unit. Still, Mura said that as soon as he began receiving calls from those concerned about the police presence, he asked the sergeant to remove the K-9 unit from campus.
“Now, obviously, showing up en masse to a campus, in light of recent events, and not notifying campus ahead of time was an error, and that’s not gonna happen again,” Mura said. “I’ve made certain of that.”
He said that the K-9 unit has now been advised not to train at any campus in Monroe County while that school is in session.
Mura added that the sergeant was not disciplined, though.
“There was no discipline involved because the sergeant didn’t do anything that was against policy,” Mura said.
“K-9 schools,” as Mura called them, tend to include different local, county, and other agencies. The training, he said, takes months.
“They generally go all throughout Monroe County when they’re doing their training […] to give the dogs different experiences in different atmospheres, whether it’s around buildings, people, woods, traffic, things of that nature,” Mura said. He also said no K-9 officers entered a building at UR.
The lone drug-related incident from Monday that has been confirmed, through Fischer, was the confiscation of smoking devices in Towers by the fire marshal. Fischer said DPS had no role in this.
He also believed the timing of the visits could have fueled the rumors.
“I think there was confusion because the fire marshal’s office was doing something at the same time, completely unrelated to this RPD thing,” Fischer said.
He said that, while attending a meeting at Golisano Children’s Hospital, he was first notified of RPD’s visit by a call from SA Vice President and junior Jamal Holtz. Then, Fischer said, he called Mura who called off RPD, adding that there was never any in-person interaction between DPS and RPD officers during the K-9 visit.
Holtz, with SA President and senior Beatriz Gil, issued a statement yesterday reiterating Fischer’s account of the day’s events. “We want to assure you that every concern, picture, and/or statements that was shared with us was shared with the Department of Public Safety,” Gil and Holtz wrote.
They added that if anyone has differing information, they should “feel free to reach out us […] and we would be happy to follow up and investigate.”
No one has come forward to CT saying they witnessed RPD enter any buildings or an arrest firsthand.