NEWS

University of Michigan Combines Safety Offices after Child Porn Incident Highlights Lack of Communication

By Carlton Purvis

The University of Michigan is creating a new campus safety division after an incident where child porn was discovered in the university’s hospital, but not reported for months.

The new office, Division of Public Safety and Security, will be led by an executive director and report to the University of Michigan president. It will cover all aspects of security and public safety. The division will make sure “the unacceptable situation presented by this case is never repeated,” says an official memo.

Up until now, the university’s various security organizations “cooperated in campus safety operations, but were independently managed,” The Michigan Daily reports. The new office will also monitor all 911 calls and create a shared database among all public safety and security operations.

After a flash drive with child pornography was found in the hospital lounge last May, the resident who discovered it reported it to her supervisor, who notified school officials. University officials conducted their own investigation without involving law enforcement and a hospital attorney determined that “there wasn't enough evidence to tell police,” the Associated Press reports.

Eventually, in December 2011, police were notified and a pediatric resident, Dr. Stephen Jenson, was charged with possession of child pornography.

Later, the university hired two law firms to investigate the delay in reporting. Investigators found that there was a “clear failure” among university staff and departments to communicate the discovery and a breakdown in communication between the health system’s security and the university’s public safety offices (see the full report here).

“There must be a University-wide system that guarantees timely and effective communication of potential serious misconduct, as well as the safety and security of all of our University constituencies,” says a statement released by the university board of regents.

The school is planning a nationwide search for en executive director -- someone with both law enforcement and management experience.

Jenson recently pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in federal court, but a judge rejected the plea and ordered a psychiatric evaluation.


photo from MLibrary/flickr

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