Metropolitan Police apprehended Horace Wyatt after he robbed a Howard University student in Corcoran Hall Jan. 24, and then officers let him go. The robbery victim provided police with a description of Wyatt and told officers where to find him. But after apprehending Wyatt, the police apparently failed to have the victim make a positive identification, a necessary element in sustaining a robbery charge. Now police are looking for Wyatt after a judge issued an arrest warrant March 8. With a two-month head start, though, the fugitive seems to have every advantage over his pursuers. The failure of MPD to obtain a positive identification of Wyatt invalidates the handy police work of officers who found the thief wandering near GW’s campus. GW students deserve better from the police sworn to protect them.
The victim was willing to identify her attacker, but police never linked up with her in January to obtain the crucial identification that would allow them to hold Wyatt on a robbery charge. Any number of excuses could be employed by police to explain their actions, but the bottom line remains that a criminal lurks among us because officers failed to do their jobs.
While University Police had little role in dealing with Wyatt, campus police officers do not seem to know enough about the criminals that wander campus, even ones who have already been nabbed once. When questioned by Hatchet reporters, University Police Director Dolores Stafford could not provide information regarding the suspect’s prior criminal record or answer why the victim was not brought in to identify Wyatt. As students’ first line of defense, UPD should ensure cases are handled properly – even if handled by other law enforcement agencies – and should be more aware of the history of campus criminals.
UPD is the primary agency charged with maintaining campus security, and officers should arm themselves with the information necessary to accomplish this mission. If obtaining that data means improving cooperation and communication with MPD, then every step to reach that end must be taken.