Criminal Treatment

by THE DARTMOUTH EDITORIAL BOARD | 11/20/01 6:00am

Although we respect the ongoing efforts of the Hanover Police Department to find the per- petrator of two recent on-campus assaults, the parading of a student through Food Court last Thursday evening was unacceptable.

This spectacle, in probably the most densely populated area on campus at that moment, made the student look like a criminal in front of his peers.

After a witness to the original crime identified a student who was potentially the perpetrator, police officers came to Food Court to question the possible suspect. If the student had been eating in the main hall of Food Court, a public confrontation would have been unavoidable. But the student was eating in the virtually abandoned west end of Thayer Hall, giving authorities an opportunity to transport the student to a private area for questioning without creating a stir.

The Hanover Police Department decided not to take this opportunity. Instead, they went public prematurely with their potential suspect -- fueling talk among many that he was guilty of attacking two women.

The circumstances clearly justified the interrogation of this student, but the police could not justify their indiscreet approach.

During the Zantop murder investigation last winter, the Department conducted its affairs -- including many student interviews -- in a subdued, professional fashion. This was not the case last Thursday.

The botched handling of the situation didn't just make an innocent student appear guilty in front of so many of his peers, it also worsened the anxious mood of the campus. This happened at a time when the police were supposed to be easing students' worries, not making them more intense.