Vandy officers draw guns on students in fraternity house

Friday, February 12, 2010 at 2:23am
Staff reports

Three Vanderbilt University police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave after an incident Sunday in which they drew their weapons on students inside the National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternity house.

Officers were responding to a disturbance call at 4:50 a.m. Sunday when they observed things being thrown out of a broken window at the Delphi house, according to a Vanderbilt police log.

The trio of officers entered the house with their weapons drawn and handcuffed several students and their off-campus guests, a Vanderbilt news release said. The students were held outside in freezing cold weather for more than 30 minutes.

A further look at the police log reveals that officers also observed furniture being thrown against the walls and evidence of extensive vandalism at the house.

Vanderbilt University Police Department Chief August Washington has ordered an internal investigation.

The officers will remain on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete.

"We greatly value the safety and sense of community that our officers bring to campus," said Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. "However, it is imperative when weapons are drawn and students are held in this manner, that we ensure our procedures and protocols for such actions are clear, that all on our campus understand those procedures.”

An investigation into how the damage to the house occurred is also under way.

The Delphi house is one of five remaining historic homes in West Side Row. Built in the early 1900s, they were used as Vanderbilt’s first dormitories. Today, they serve as homes for various Greek organizations.

NPHC, which is housed in Delphi house, is the governing council for the seven historically black fraternities and sororities on Vanderbilt’s campus.

Repairs to the house already have begun so the structure can be used as soon as possible.

“This is an important gathering place for NPHC members, as well as a historic residence,” said Richard McCarty, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Our housing office will oversee the necessary repairs so that the building can be reopened to our students.”

17 Comments on this post:

By: BEOWULF on 2/12/10 at 7:39

BEOWULF: From the site activity description, the officers followed correct protocol for innocents, perpetrators, and their own safety. Given recent university violence and shootings throughout the country, there was more than enough justification.

By: sidneyames on 2/12/10 at 7:45

Of course Beowulf, you are correct. However, I suspect the family income will determine some of this outcome. Pity those poor students out there in the cold for 30 minutes (sarcastic). Of course if they were doing a pool dip in Dec. or running for a cause, the cold would not bother them. I hope thee police are not punished (again) for doing their job.

If you see furniture being thrown out of my home's windows, please call police. Tell them to bring guns. I want the protection.

By: Nash19 on 2/12/10 at 7:50

Who wants to bet this will turn into "news" after being twisted into a racially motivated incident? White fraternity/sorority house,.....
While I was not there nor have all the details, ....oh my! I sound like the Prez!

By: si on 2/12/10 at 9:01

"We greatly value the safety and sense of community that our officers bring to campus," said Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. "However, it is imperative when weapons are drawn and students are held in this manner, that we ensure our procedures and protocols for such actions are clear, that all on our campus understand those procedures.”

Nobody but you guys are turning this into a racial thing. Shut up.

By: on 2/12/10 at 9:29

Whatever happened to going off to College to get an education?

By: localboy on 2/12/10 at 9:53

Did you folks hear about that incident at Vandy - some poster labeled Nash19 claims it was racially motivated - also it's rumored that he's pro-Prez - pass the word!

By: idgaf on 2/12/10 at 9:56

Lets see its almost 5 am furniture (weapons) are flying around , and it can be assumed they are out numbered. Should you go in with weapons drawn or wait until an officer goes down then shoot them?

No harm no foul.

By: artsmart on 2/12/10 at 10:01

I'm not sure what the officers were supposed to do. If what was reported is true what the heck were the officers to do, say mother may I. I would also like to know what the heck the kids were doing apparently destroying the place. Having to stand in the cold for 30 minutes is laughable. If what is reported I would probably kick the kids out of school, they are clearly not there for an education. That would go for any kids no matter the race.

By: fightcrib on 2/12/10 at 10:47

The students were just playing a game at 4:50am: "Let's pretend we are University of Tenn athletes." Well, that's a dangerous game.

By: dangerlover on 2/12/10 at 10:53

I have no doubt that those students were obvious raiders fans, so the police had every right to draw their weapons in self protection.

By: on 2/12/10 at 11:14

judyboodo It is an education, if you throw furniture out the window, cops will come.

By: sayword on 2/12/10 at 1:12

so before you start placing blame and talking all of this crap, YOU need to know some of the facts.

Yes the cops came into the house, which is fine, but what you fail to know is that they went upstairs into the rooms of the sleeping students and used excessive force against them. Mind you these students were SLEEPING. A student was hit in the face with a gun, another students was thrown to the ground . . . THESE STUDENTS WERE SLEEPING IN THEIR BEDS.

After they that, the students and their guest were taken outside (they were in shorts and undershirts, some had no socks) handcuffed and had to sit outside in the COLD for 45 minutes. While this was happening the cops searched the house for their STUDENT IDS. (4 of them are VANDERBILT STUDENTS) They should have asked them if they were Vanderbilt students from the beginning and the students and their guest could have told them where their IDs were.

After they sat outside for 45 minutes in the cold, they were put into police cars without any heat on. All of this happen from 5 am to 9 am.

yes we need to find out what happened with all of the damage, but you DO NOT use excessive force like the cops did. These students were sleeping in their beds.

By: on 2/12/10 at 1:29

How in the world could anyone sleep with all that going on?

By: artsmart on 2/12/10 at 2:42


come on there is no way anyone was sleeping while the house was being torn up. If for no other reason fear for their own safety, or how about concern for the house they were staying. Something just doesn't make sense.

By: govskeptic on 2/13/10 at 5:39

The laughable part is the description of the damage by the
Vice-chancellor. He makes it sound as if though a large
repair to structure is needed versus fixing a window and
picking up and repositioning some furniture. So, overblown
by all.

By: Vandy1 on 2/21/10 at 11:24

As a student at Vanderbilt, my only problem is that the treatment is different for drunk frat boys who throw their own furniture around, steal other fraternity's and sorority's furniture, so they can break it, break into sorority houses, and steal anything they can get their hands on around campus. Maybe no harm was done, but police officers definitely treated this incident differently than any other I've seen around campus.

By: deepal on 3/3/10 at 5:58

What most readers don't realize is that VUPD officers have a very different job than your average police officers. VU is private property. I'm an alum and former employee and lived right next to the campus for years. It is not the same as the rest of metro Nashville, especially the area being discussed where there are mainly frat houses.

VU has no gun culture, no gangs, no serious drug issues, and is just a pretty content place to be. The main reason it has its own police force is to protect students and employees FROM the PUBLIC, especially in areas like the Medical Center where trauma patients are cared for and the crowd is more varied in every way. Almost all of the violent crime on campus (and there's not much) has been committed by non-Vandy people, not students.

At first blush, this looks like vandalism. VUPD officers are trained to understand the campus culture, which is different than other colleges in the area because the student makeup is drastically different. VUPD officers don't have to be in fear of their lives as much as Metro cops do. I dated a Metro cop who was dying to be accepted by VUPD because the pay was better, the work ten times easier, and not nearly as dangerous. Unless they've changed their policy in the last few years, VUPD officers still give students a ride to Student Health if they need it. The relationship is much different, and if VUPD officers drew weapons over what looks like nothing more than vandalism, they deserve to be punished. You don't get to draw guns unless you have reason to fear for your life, and you shouldn't draw on unarmed students, especially in this environment that's so low-risk. Your chances of having a VU student pull a gun on you are about equivalent to you winning the lottery!