Administrators stated that UMW Police Department did not participate in use of tear gas at the Fredericksburg protests on May 31.
In an email response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Blue & Gray Press, Anna Billingsley, associate vice president of University Relations, asserted that the five UMW officers present at the protest did not use tear gas or other caustic chemicals.
“The UMW officers were present merely at the request of the Fredericksburg Police Department,” Billingsley said.
Both University President Troy Paino and Chief of Police Michael Hall were copied on the email response and on the initial FOIA request.
The conclusion came ahead of an investigation pertaining to the events of May 31 by the Police Community Advisory Panel established by Paino. The University president announced the panelists in an email announcement to students yesterday.
According to Hall, the mutual aid agreement under which the University may be called to provide assistance in cases of public emergencies also places leadership in the hands of the agency requesting help – in this case, the Fredericksburg Police Department.
“Under the agreement, they serve under the command of the agency in charge,” Hall said in a June 1 email to students, directing questions about the tactics used at the protest to the City Police Department.
However, the Fredericksburg Police Department has said it could not provide documentation about the events of May 31 in relation to UMW’s Police.
“You will have to make your request with the UMW Police [Department] as we do not have records of their actions,” said Richard Pennock, captain of the Detective Department of the Fredericksburg Police, in an email response to the same FOIA request.
This story is developing.