Annie Dietz, Campus Carrier deputy news editor
On Friday, Berry police officers arrested three students for trespassing in residence halls. According to the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office arrest records from Tuesday, the three students charged for this unauthorized entry were freshman Caitlin Gillihan and juniors Nish Patel and Michael Gaston.
According to Ryan Chesley, assistant chief of campus safety, the arrests were made in conjunction with one report filed to the Berry Police Department regarding trespassing, in which the reportee explained that a dorm room on campus had been entered without permission of the inhabitants, while the inhabitants were not in the room. Following the report, officers opened an investigation into the matter. They began by identifying individuals in the area around the time of the incident, and were able to narrow down the suspect list before the eventual arrest.
“The initial report was filed with us by a student who was concerned that someone had made unauthorized access into their residence while they were not there,” Chesley said. “From that point, we start looking at people who might have been in that area at that time, we start talking to anyone who might have seen anyone. We continue to follow these sources, these avenues, until in this case we identified individuals who we thought might be likely suspects for being in that area at that time. We ultimately question them, talk to them, and there we are.”
Gillihan, Patel and Gaston have all been charged with criminal trespassing. The situation is still under investigation, so specific information regarding the incident still has yet to be released to the public. However, as Chesley explained, students should still remain vigilant in order to prevent similar crimes in the future.
“Safety is a shared responsibility, and it starts with maintaining your own spaces and locking your doors,” Chesley said. “Being vigilant on a personal level and being responsible for your own space allows you to be a part of the bigger picture for everybody’s well being.”
In an email sent to all students on Feb. 26, Gary Will, assistant vice president of campus security and emergency response management outlined major steps individuals in the Berry community can take to protect themselves and their physical property. Among these, Will highlights keeping doors and cars locked at all times, as well as shutting common residence hall doors. Further, Will encourages students to always report suspicious activity to the Berry emergency 24- hour telephone line.
“If there is something that doesn’t seem right, call the Welcome Center,” Will said. “If something is suspicious, if something just doesn’t seem right, smell right, look right, call the Welcome Center and let the Police Department know what’s going on. If we have 4,000 eyes being vigilant about what’s going on, we’re safer as a community. That’s what we would ask; if you see something, say something.”
At SGA on Feb. 25, Dean of Students Lindsey Taylor reminded students that because Berry is such a safe place, it can be easy to forget taking simple precautionary measures to prevent crime. Nonetheless, things like this can, and do, still occur on campus.
“This is a great reminder that we are not above the tray of anything happening here at Berry,” Taylor said.