BG report alleges S&S broke lock

by Colin Barry | 10/23/03 5:00am

Bones Gate fraternity filed a police report earlier this month alleging that Safety and Security officers illegally broke into a locked room to find alcohol in the fraternity's physical plant.

College security officials denied forcibly entering the room, asserting that they had found the padlock on the door to the room unlocked.

The accusations come at a time when College administrators face increasing criticism for their enforcement of Greek policy. Before this incident, however, Safety and Security had encountered little formal reproach from Greek leaders.

In the incident in question, Safety and Security staff reportedly entered the fraternity early on Oct. 4 in response to a fire alarm. According to College Proctor Harry Kinne, officers immediately began "going through the entire house to make sure everyone was out."

At this point, accounts of the morning diverge.

Safety and Security officials said officers found an unlocked door.

"The officers found a room in the basement that had a padlock on it that was open," Kinne said. "They looked inside and found alcohol."

In contrast, fraternity members attested that "Safety & Security had illegally broken into a locked room," according to Hanover Police Chief Nick Giaccone.

Although BG members declined to comment, Giaccone said fraternity members called the police immediately after the incident and filed the report. Both Giaccone and Kinne said they were unsure whether BG would pursue legal action as a result of the incident.

Safety and Security found no evidence of fire in the house, and the alarm may have been set off by cigarette smoke.

After the complaint, Giaccone said his department conducted an investigation, concluding that the lock had been previously broken "based on [S&S's] statement, not any physical condition of the lock."

Police apparently did not formally interview any BG members in the investigation. Giaccone said that if any witnesses attest that Safety and Security officers broke the lock, the police conclusion might be questioned.

"We would obviously take a look at it and look at all the circumstances involved," Giaccone said.

If the room was unlocked, police said Safety and Security would possess sufficient cause to enter.

"If they were going through the building on a fire alarm," Giaccone said, "I think they have the right to check all areas."

Student Body President Janos Marton '04 expressed concern over the allegations.

"While I don't know the full details of what took place, what I have heard so far worries me," Marton said. "The relationship between S&S and Greek houses has been very cooperative, and the events of that weekend seem like an aberration."

If BG's police report results in a lawsuit against the responding officers, charges would have to be brought by the police rather than the fraternity, according to Giaccone. The scope of the charges would also reportedly be limited.

"In New Hampshire, there is no breaking-and-entering law," Giaccone said. "At the most, it would be criminal mischief."