Hamilton, NY - Bill Ferguson, Colgate University campus security director, is being wrongfully accused of racial profiling for doing his job.
According to Syracuse.com, the incident occurred on Monday night around 8 PM. Two students called campus security reporting what appeared to be a shirtless black male running through campus with a gun. Campus security sent out two alerts a few minutes later.
The first alert said that "an emergency situation was occurring", and the second said that there was an active shooter on campus, according to Fox News. College President Brian Casey said that the second alert was "a profound error."
The alert said that a search was underway, and advised students to 'find a safe space and remain indoors.' The University was placed on lockdown for about four hours and SWAT responded to help search for the suspect. A black male was found during the investigation, who had a glue gun for an art project.
The University President, Brian Casey, said that there will be a review of what he described as a "difficult, painful situation," and that it would include the role of "implicit racial bias" during the incident's reporting and response. Casey's reasoning suggests that if the reported gunman were white, the university wouldn't have responded to protect students.
College officials said that students who were upset gathered at the college chapel until well after 2 AM on Tuesday to express their "profound dismay that a student of color engaged in academic activity could be identified as a threat to the campus." However, that mistake was made by the callers, who couldn't clearly see the object at night. .
The College postponed its Academic Awards Convocation, which was scheduled for Tuesday morning.
Campus Security Director Bill Ferguson has been placed on administrative leave while the review is being conducted.
Campus Security Director Bill Ferguson took the facts that he had, in their totality, issued alerts, and found the suspect gunman. Race was not the issue, the presence of a firearm and the possibility of an active shooter on campus was. Once it was confirmed that there was no weapon and no active shooter, then the alerts were lifted and campus operations resumed as normal.
If something tragic had happened, and Ferguson hadn't followed standard active shooter protocol, then he would have been justifiably criticized for failing to do his job.
When a suspect is being sought, their skin color is an important identifier, just as their clothing description, age, facial hair, and other identifying factors are. Failure to acknowledge this information is't avoiding racial bias, it would make it more difficult to locate and identify dangerous suspects.
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