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The Blue & Gray Press | September 25, 2017

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Police Owe the Bullet and UMW an Explanation

Two weeks ago, the Police Beat had its dream story.

Close to 3000 copies of the Bullet were taken from their drop-off location and thrown in the dumpster behind the Woodard Campus Center. UMW Police have come up with no official answer and the case remains open.

As far as we know.

A Bullet editor filed a police report immediately after the missing papers were discovered under the day’s trash that afternoon, and when this current paper went to print she had yet to be contacted by the police regarding the matter in any way.

The administration has gotten involved in the ordeal, and President Hample sent a thoughtful and considerate e-mail to the editors and writers of the paper, citing “conclusive” findings by the UMW Police.

The story, as we heard it second and third hand, was that Housekeeping staff had “inadvertently” thrown away our papers when instructed to clean the area. We obviously had many questions.

Why remove them now, when the papers are delivered to the same spot every week? Why were several hundred previous issues of the paper left behind while nearly all of the new issues thrown away?

Visits to the police station proved fruitless. We were told the investigation was being reopened, but could not get a firm answer as to why. Was the initial information incorrect, or was there new evidence? If it wasn’t Housekeeping, then who was it? They said they would call. They have not.

These unfortunate circumstances have given us a new perspective into the frustrating relationship we have had with the UMW Police all semester. Police Chief James Snipes is the only member of the police authorized to release the incident reports that become our weekly Police Beat. Despite numerous attempts to contact him through e-mail, telephone and surprise visits to the police station, Snipes has been unreachable for weeks.

This matter goes far beyond common courtesy. It is Federal law that a university release its incident reports to the public. Our phone calls requesting these reports have gone unanswered for far too long.  Rumors are circulating as to the person or persons behind the Bullet dumping, and the police’s lack of cooperation and transparency only adds fuel to the fire.

But above our frustration with the lack of cooperation and the unanswered phone calls is our regret to the UMW community. This paper is for you, and when we can’t get it into your hands, the failure falls partly on us. We will continue to doggedly follow this investigation until some real answers are provided, and we will keep pressure on the police to maintain the openness that is required of them by law.

And when we get the answers, you’ll read about them here first.

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