Last Friday evening, Dave Boyer, director of Campus Safety and Security, alerted students to an incident of indecent exposure on campus via an all-campus e-mail. A student notified Security at 6:14 p.m. on Friday that a man had indecently exposed himself to a student between Agard and Thompson Health Center. According to the student’s report, the incident occurred around 6 p.m. Security responded to the scene and contacted the Williamstown Police Department (WPD), who also responded immediately.
“First and foremost, our concern was for the well-being of the student,” Boyer said. “As that was being established, there was a coordinated response to the scene by officers from both the Williamstown Police Department and Campus Safety and Security. WPD officers were in the area when the call was placed and were able to immediately respond to the scene. During that response, I received a call from Alison Warner, the [Security] supervisor on-duty, who briefed [me] on the situation, the response and a possible location of the suspect.”
While the student did not report that the perpetrator threatened them beyond his indecent exposure, according to Boyer, the perpetrator followed the student from a distance after the incident.
In reporting the indecent exposure to Security, the student produced a detailed description that enabled Security and the WPD to identify and apprehend the suspect soon after responding to the call. Boyer released a description of the man via all-campus e-mail, describing the suspect as “a thin white male under 20 years of age, [five feet and eight inches] tall, wearing a red-checkered long-sleeve shirt, beige shorts, dark curly hair and possible freckles on his face.” According to Boyer, particularly in a situation where the community and students are in conflict, a strong relationship between Security and the WPD permits such quick apprehension of perpetrators. “Our partnership with WPD allows us to almost immediately double our resources,” Boyer said. “In this case, that level of response helped to bring this incident to a quick conclusion.”
In addition to notifying the WPD, Security kept the administration abreast of the situation. “When Boyer got the report, he called me and Dean Bolton immediately and kept me informed as the situation evolved,” Steve Klass, vice president for campus life, said. “Security got a report from the student victim who gave an incredibly detailed description, which thankfully led to a very quick identification of the person involved … The entire situation moved very quickly from the time of the report to the point of identification of the perpetrator. I give Dave Boyer and Alison Warner and their team on site all the credit for overseeing that – both with taking care of the victim and running that as a criminal investigation and for making sure that the WPD was involved right away. The WPD were great to work with on this case, as always, and helped resolve things very quickly once we turned it over to them.”
This recent incident highlights one of the difficulties of operating as an open campus, with regular interaction between students at the College and town members beyond the undergraduate community. “Williams is an open campus that very much values our relationships with our community. We’re constantly discussing issues around safety while maintaining our strong communication and excellent relationships with the community,” Klass said. “Much of our education of students around these issues is to remind them that crime is often opportunistic and to take proper precautions so as not to put yourself in a position to be taken advantage of.”