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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Campus SWAT: The Militarization of the College Cop

     As a result of the fear mongering that follows public school and college campus spree shootings--the so-called Columbine Effect--the aging campus security guard has been replaced by the SWAT equipped and trained commando. The militarization of campus security has not made our colleges and universities any safer. It could be argued that militarized campus policing has had the opposite effect.

The Adu-Brempong Case

     On March 2, 2010, in Gainsville, Florida, members of the University of Florida's Critical Incident Response Tearm (CIRT), responded to a 911 call that a 35-year-old doctoral student from Ghana was screaming inside his on-campus apartment. Kofi Adu-Brempong was having psychotic delusions brought on by his fear that his student visa would be denied.

     Adu-Brempong, a man disabled by childhood polio, refused to come to his door and speak to the police. This led to an eleven hour standoff that ended with the CIRT officers breaking into the apartment. After failing to subdue Adu-Brempon with a taser gun and a beanbag device, a CIRT officer shot the deranged man in the head with his Bushmaster M-4 rifle. According to the police, the subject had attacked them with a knife and a pipe.

     Adu-Brempong survived his head wound and was charged with one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, and five counts of resisting an officer with violence. A judge, ruling that the police did not have sufficient evidence to support these charges, dismissed the case against Adu-Brempong.

     On August 11, 2011, the University of Florida Police Department announced that its internal investigation had found the Adu-Brempong shooting unjustified. The head of the CIRT unit, a 17-year veteran of the force, was fired. According to the internal review of the shooting, the CIRT officers should not have been deployed in this case.

    As a result of the shooting, a group of educators and filmakers produced a documentary about the case called "In His Own Home." The film reveals that the CIRT officer who shot Adu-Brempon remained on the force until he was fired for roughing up a white student who was driving a Mercedez.

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