Late last night, the CU-Boulder Police Department announced that it was investigating a possible armed kidnapping. But this morning, a CUPD spokesman tells us there have been no missing persons reported at the school, or in the City and County of Boulder.
Did it really happen? That's unknown at this point. But a number of possible offenses said to have taken place on campus during the past couple of months either turned out not to be crimes or remain unsubstantiated. Details below.
Around 9:15 p.m. last night, according to a CUPD release, a CU student saw a white male in a dark-colored hoodie get out of a car near the Benson Earth Sciences Building and point what looked like a gun at another man. Shortly thereafter, both got into the back seat of a car before it headed east on Colorado Avenue past Folsom Street.
The CUPD immediately put out an alert, asking students, faculty and staff who might have knowledge of the incident to contact officers at 303-492-6666. Included was a description of the presumed victim: an African-American male wearing jeans, a blue shirt and, maybe, a backpack.
Thus far, though, CUPD spokesman Ryan Huff says no one matching this description has been reported missing at CU or Boulder as a whole. Indeed, no one's missing in the area during this time frame, period.
Did the CUPD jump the gun, as it were? Nope, since the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, a federal law, requires all colleges and universities that receive federal funding to share such information as soon as possible.
"City and County law enforcement agencies don't have these rules," Huff points out. "With these crimes, we don't have the benefit of taking our time to investigate before we send out alerts. But after a day or two passes, we may learn that a crime didn't occur," or the evidence of lawbreaking is uncertain.
Examples of this phenomenon abound at CU during the past couple of months. Take two high-profile reports from August.
"A couple of weeks before school started, we had two separate incidents of people reporting possible sex assaults that occurred somewhere on campus," Huff notes. "But they were third-party reports, and the third party wouldn't provide any contact information for the victim" -- and in the weeks since then, no one has come forward to confirm a sexual assault took place.
Another sex assault report surfaced on September 7, after a young woman who'd gotten separated from friends wound up walking with three males she didn't know. She subsequently blacked out, and when she returned to consciousness, she was partially clothed. But she wasn't certain she'd been sexually assaulted, and thus far, the CUPD hasn't been able to confirm that a crime took place -- although Huff stresses that the investigation is ongoing.
Then there was a report about a possible sexual assault of one man by another in a room at Folsom Field. However, Huff says, "after talking to the two people involved, we learned that it was a misunderstanding, and no crime occurred."
The same is true of a reported robbery early on August 31 at the Regent Administrative Center. Student Cullen Hart, eighteen, told cops two men had approached him with a knife and demanded money -- and while he managed to get away, he suffered a cut on his arm in the process. Later, though, the CUPD determined that Hart had fabricated the whole thing and issued him a summons for false reporting to authorities.
Not every crime report at CU has been debunked. For instance, the beating of an Asian student who was taunted for his alleged resemblance to DJ Steve Aoki definitely took place; the CUPD is still looking for the perpetrators in the case.
Huff calls the volume of crime claims thus far this school year fairly typical, be they accurate or inaccurate: "At the beginning of the school year, when we have a new population and the weather is nice out, those factors can lead to more reports than in, say, November, December and January, when it's colder outside and people have been here for a while on campus."
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In the meantime, the CUPD representatives will continue to tell students, faculty and staff, as well as the media, about possible crimes as quickly as they can, believing safety, and following federal law, is more important than having to subsequently reveal no laws were broken.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Beating in Boulder spurred by suspect comparing student to DJ Steve Aoki."