University of Mary Washington police said they have decided not to charge President Judy Hample for posing as a student being attacked during the annual Safety Walk on Sept. 30.
When Hample pressed the “blue light” button during a regular Safety Walk around campus, the University Police did not have any prior knowledge of the test. As a result, according police records, Hample technically filed a “false report,” which violates the Code of Virginia 18.2-461.
“As President of the University, I am ultimately responsible for the safety and welfare of our campuses,” Hample said in a statement to the Bullet. “In my official capacity, I was testing the blue light system, which had failed in a previous safety walk.”
The University Police decided not to charge the president, according to police records.
“This caused a serious risky potential hazard to the campus community,” Executive Director of Police and Security Services Mark Sandor said. “We responded as a real emergency.”
On the Wednesday evening that Hample did the safety test, police, thinking the call was real, sent two cars to the area.
“Police units on College Avenue went 45 mph in opposite [traffic] lanes,” Sandor said.
Meanwhile, police “were engaging in a controlled sweep of the area on foot and by vehicle,” said Susan Knick, assistant vice president for public safety and community support services.
“We would have taken [the assailant] down at gunpoint,” Sandor said.
As reported in the Bullet on Oct. 8, police took about six minutes to arrive when President Hample tested the blue light, pretending to be a student being harassed by a strange man.
Knick warned against “testing” the blue lights on campus when there isn’t an emergency. The six minutes were from the time Hample pressed the button to the moment an officer arrived.
“It is a Class 1 Misdemeanor offense in Virginia to falsely summon or give false reports to law-enforcement officials,” she said.
“Public safety should not be jeopardized,” Sandor said.
After meeting with Knick and the dispatcher who answered the blue light call during the test, Hample said she plans to form a presidential task force to review emergency response systems and procedures.
—compiled by Bullet staff reporters.