Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Randall is Wrong

On December 26, 2010, the Roanoke Times ran a blog by a retired Professor from Virginia Tech saying that Tech did not violate the Clery Act. The following is my response to him:

Randall is Wrong

Professor Clifford Randall’s contention that Virginia Tech did not violate the Clery Act is just flat out wrong. His words are an annoying combination of arrogance, self-delusion, incorrect facts, and omissions of critical information.

For Professor Randall to imply that the victims’ families have anything but the best of motives in trying to get at the truth is indicative of just how shallow and superficial an individual he is. Does he really think that $100,000.00 makes up for the loss of a son, daughter, or spouse? Having been there personally, I know that it is absolutely critical to the recovery and healing process to have complete openness and honesty about what happened. I know what it is to have a granddaughter who is psychologically damaged from a school shooting. She was seven when her mother was gunned down; I know what it is to have a son turn to alcohol because he blames himself for not being there to protect Angie. I know what it is like to find that son an emotional wreck and living in squalor in Baltimore. Professor Randall, do not lecture any of the victims’ families over their actions following these school shootings—you do not have that right. I don’t care if you have lost hundreds of friends. For you to imply that the loss of a friend is the same as child is both na├»ve and absurd.

You, Professor Randall, are the one who is misguided and ill informed. You are the one whose motives need to be looked into, not the families. I would argue that the school’s repeated failure to be candid and honest made the families’ legal actions necessary. I would argue that you were part of the Steger clique and your motive is to protect your buddies, not get at the truth. If Virginia’s schools are ever to be made safe, we have to have a complete and honest analysis of what happened—the Department of Education’s findings are part of that honesty. How can you possibly oppose that?

Professor Randall, if you look at the two school shootings here in Virginia you will see parallels in the profiles of the killers, parallels in the schools’ ignoring warning signs, and parallels in incompetent responses by people in positions of authority on the days of the shootings. At some point these incompetents need to be held accountable. It is my contention, that the cover-up that took place at the Appalachian School of Law made a Virginia Tech-type shooting inevitable. To cover up any aspect of what happened on April 16, 2007, lays the groundwork for future campus shootings. So yes, the families do hope that their actions will save lives. It is a mystery to me how any college professor can miss that point.

Randall states that the purpose of the Clery Act is “to ensure that the number of crimes committed on college campuses would be public knowledge so that parents and students could use the crime rate as a factor when selection a college.” In fact the purpose of the act is to ensure that faculty, staff, and students are warned about acts of violence on campus and can take precautionary measures.

As for the Clery Act, Professor Randall neglects to tell readers that Virginia Tech bought and paid for an expert opinion that the school did not violate the Clery Act. Tech paid $9,000.00 to Dolores A. Stafford, President and CEO of Stafford & Associates and a former police chief at George Washington University to write an opinion that the school did not violate federal law. As a reward, Tech then hired Ms. Stafford for thousands of dollars more to do work on security issues at the Blacksburg campus. Ms. Stafford may have accepted as much as $30,000.00 from the school. With that much money changing hands, how can anyone think she is not a hired gun? To think that greed did not influence her opinion is sheer folly.

Randall swallows hook, line and sinker the idea that the police were justified in assuming that the double homicide was a love triangle and the police zeroed in on Emily Hilscher’s boy friend to the exclusion of all other possibilities. Crime analysis #101 teaches not to exclude any possibility at a crime scene especially when there are bloody footprints leading away from the murder scene. Freshmen crime students know that, but apparently Chief Flinchum and President Steger were ignorant of that very basic principle.

Professor Randall claims that lockdowns are now knee jerk reactions on campus. That is simply not true—he gives no evidence. The only “jerks” are those who don’t take precautionary measures when confronted with a double homicide. As for the lockdown, Professor Randall fails to note that Virginia Tech Veterinary School lockdown because of the threat and he fails to note that the school president’s office was locked. An even more telling omission is the fact that Henry Lee and Rachel Hill were allowed to leave West Ambler Johnston Hall and were subsequently murdered in Norris Hall. Had West Ambler Johnston been locked down, those two young people would be alive today. That is a fact Professor Randall, not speculation. Why didn’t you mention that?

Virginia Tech violated its own security standard set in August 2006. At that time the school locked down when William Morva escaped from a nearby prison and killed a law enforcement officer and a guard. Virginia Tech locked down when there was no evidence a killer was on campus, and took no action when all the evidence pointed to the fact that the killer was on campus. How do you explain this and other inconsistencies, Professor Randall?

Professor Randall, have you actually read Department of Education’s final report? If you have did you ask yourself the following:

1. If you knew that there was no suspect, no witness, no weapon, and bloody footprints leaving the area, what would you think was possible as far as a shooter location? Would you wait 48 hours to let your campus know?

2. Are you an expert in the Clery Act?

3. Have you ever read what was Virginia Tech’s timely warning procedure in effect on April 16, 2007? What does it say?

4. Do you have ANY evidence that the Chief of Police EVER prepared a communication to be released to the campus and community as per the required timely warning procedure in effect on April 16, 2007?

5. Do you find it acceptable that there was enough time for secret emails to be going to Richmond describing what was happening but not to release that information? How about the fact that communications about trash and bank activities were stopped, phone calls were made by some Policy Group meeting attendees to their families about the shooting, various buildings and local schools were locked down, and even school and town SWAT teams were deployed, yet, only a few people on campus knew what was happening over an hour before Norris Hall happened?

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