3UAA students complain about officer's behavior

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The University of Alaska Anchorage police department is investigating complaints that an officer pointed a gun at several students and screamed at them while searching a dorm for a suicidal man.

A letter signed by 22 residents of North Hall was sent to the campus Police Department and UAA officials Friday. The acting police chief and a residential dorm employee met with some of the students Sunday.

The residents requested an investigation of the incident, an explanation of what happened, and an apology from the officer. Their letter states, ''We are fearful that another undertrained cop, who is put in a position of authority to protect us, could snap under the stress of his or her job, and put our lives in jeopardy.''

Police received a call about 5 a.m. March 10 that a man was wandering North Hall with a knife threatening to kill himself. Three officers responded, Sands said. They found several suite doors propped open and entered to search them.

Clinton Brown, a 17-year-old freshman who composed the letter, said two of the officers ''respectfully'' and ''politely'' knocked on doors and asked residents for their identification. Their guns were drawn but pointed toward the floor, Brown said, and they quickly explained the situation.

Other residents, however, reported much different contacts with another officer, he said. The letter states that officer kicked in doors and screamed, ''Are in you in there?'' and ''Come out with your hands up!''

When one resident emerged, ''There was a cop pointing (a) pistol, with finger ready to fire, straight at his chest,'' according to the letter.

Sgt. Ron Sands said officers did find the suicidal man, who apparently was visiting his ex-girlfriend in North Hall when he became distraught. Police took him to Alaska Psychiatric Institute.

''The situation was not being explained to the students at the time,'' Sands said. ''Officers were concerned about finding the individual with the knife. They might have been concentrating more on that than relaying the information.''

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