The University of Miami Police Department’s mission is “to maximize the safety and security of the Coral Gables campus.” Recent events have led The Miami Hurricane’s editorial staff to ask how UMPD plans to do that without effectively and promptly responding to questions from the community it is sworn to protect.
Over the past nine months, UM’s Coral Gables campus saw a sudden increase in dead and injured cats. The possible crimes didn’t even become public knowledge until UPurr, a campus organization that aims to “care for and help the cat population in Miami-Dade,” posted on Instagram about its ongoing frustration with UMPD and the lack of communication regarding the issue.
Taylor Greenspan, UPurr’s treasurer, was repeatedly told that someone would follow up with her when she asked for updates on the investigation, but her calls were never returned. Hoping to get anyone’s attention, she went to the UMPD office in person. That attempt also went nowhere. She left her contact information, and still, no one followed up.
Our reporters requested a comment on potential leads in the investigation and threats to campus from UMPD on Tuesday, Sept. 26. They did not hear back until Monday, Oct. 2, nearly a full week later. This response came after our faculty advisor, Professor Antonio Mora, Dean Steven Priepke and Dean Ryan Holmes were included in the email thread.
Even then, UMPD said it had no information to share yet, despite opening the investigation in April, 2023. Their full statement can be online at themiamihurricane.com.
In contrast, when TMH reached out to Chief Assistant State Attorney Kathleen Hoague, who opened an investigation after UPurr reached out to the Office of the State Attorney animal cruelty unit, a response was provided the next day with details on the investigation’s prosecutorial process.
UPurr made requests to review campus security footage immediately after UPurr members or ABM employees, the janitorial service providers hired by UM, reported a cat injury or death to UPurr, dating back to Jan. 22, 2022. UMPD failed to respond to these requests until several weeks later. By the time they did, it was too late. Brooke Harrison, UPurr president, was told at an in-person meeting that UMPD’s security cameras automatically delete footage after 28 days, meaning all footage had been erased.
The lack of response to inquiries regarding the cat injuries and deaths constitutes only the latest instance where UMPD has been unclear and cryptic in its response to community dissatisfaction and TMH’s efforts to report on events.
This semester, students have faced problems with police response to repeated hit-and-runs that have damaged cars on campus, and have been frustrated by the lack of security footage in parking lots. These sentiments echo student frustrations that we originally reported on in 2015.
Last semester, one of our reporters covered a car accident outside of the University Village that hospitalized two pedestrians and involved a UM football player. TMH tried to speak to UMPD officers on the scene but were shut down and directed to UM Communications. When TMH called UMPD and the Coral Gables Police Department the next day, we were sent back and forth between the two police departments as we unsuccessfully tried to verify details about the accident.
TMH and UMPD have traditionally collaborated effectively. In 2015 we wrote about the fall in crime rates due to improved security measures and UMPD’s communication and outreach efforts. Through open communication with UMPD, we published articles addressing the pressing problems related to crime, campus safety and UMPD policy. These details reassured the community about their safety.
This is not to say that TMH has shied away from criticizing the actions of UMPD in the past. Even with that level of collaboration, we used our platform to critique the department when appropriate.
Unfortunately, we now seem to be facing a new reality of silence. TMH finds it next to impossible to get any response from our police department, let alone specific answers to the questions we deem important for our community.
More broadly, TMH believes the UM community deserves more transparency and communication from authorities throughout the University.
We’ve shared this concern before when covering the silence that surrounded the SigEp drugging allegations, and we’re tired of seeing little change and concern from anyone. When UM authorities remain silent or dodge our questions, it allows for gossip and rumors to take the place of clear and valuable information.
We ask that UMPD expeditiously and seriously value every case of alleged crimes or misbehavior on UM’s property and any threat to the UM community. Our aim is not to bash the police department. It is simply a plea for more communication and transparency so that UMPD does its job in a way that allows us to do ours.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire staff or entire editorial board. We encourage questions, concerns and responses to be sent to email@example.com.