Fed to lead force

In the wake of the recent shooting on the Queens campus of St. John’s,
the university president has brought in a long-time law enforcement
heavyweight to review university security.

The Rev. Donald J. Harrington, CM, President of St. John’s University,
has created a security task force to be headed up by Raymond Kelly,
senior managing director and global head of corporate security at Bear,
Stearns & Co., Inc., a worldwide investment banking and securities
trading brokerage firm, and a graduate of St. John’s School of Law. In
addition to reviewing university security, the task force will evaluate
the university’s response to the shooting which occurred early on March
11, critically wounding a St. John’s football player and injuring a
teenager.

“His mandate from me is to provide an objective, outside evaluation of
all that we do in terms of providing a safe environment for our
community,” said Harrington in an address before student leaders at an
emergency Organizational Congress held last Thursday. “We have to look
at everything when we have an incident like this and I want it done by
external people so that we have … an objective evaluation, not just
ourselves saying what should be.”

Kelly said that the task force, which will include Bear Stearns security
personnel, will begin by examining the trigger and aftermath of the
shooting. The task force has already begun meeting with New York City
Police Department and university officials about the incident. Kelly’s
team will interview campus management and security officials to evaluate
procedures, and look at the physical setup and layout of the university
to determine where safety could be compromised. “We will ultimately
bring in experts from outside physical security companies to aid in the
evaluation process,” he said.

The security procedures and systems at other colleges also will be
examined. The task force will review an in-depth analysis conducted by
the business security firm Kroll Associates during the development of
the university’s Master Plan in 1999. The team, which is still under
development but is expected to include security experts, administrators,
faculty, students and other university officials, also will meet with
student leaders and faculty representatives for recommendations. Kelly
expects the task force to deliver its findings to Harrington and the
board of directors within six weeks.

“St. John’s is a great institution and a great New York institution, and
I want to help in any way I can,” Kelly said.
Harrington wants students to be directly involved in the task force’s
review. Student leaders are meeting with Kelly this week to give their
input on campus safety.

“It was really clear [from the Organizational Congress] that a lot of
the students wanted to get their voices across,” said senior Michele
Crokus, a government and politics major who will be involved in the
student meetings. “I think that the task force is a fantastic idea to
formulate the study.”

Michael Yetemian, a junior and computer science major, plans to address
concerns such as building access and campus lighting. “I’d like to make
sure that our voices are heard by Commissioner Kelly and to make sure
that he understands what our concerns are in regards to school
security,” he said.

Junior Lee Anne Burke believes the task force would be important even if
there had not been a shooting. “It’s not necessary because of the
shooting, but everything in general. The shooting was an isolated
incident.”

Kelly said that although the shooting incident triggered his involvement
in the task force, “this has been a long-standing nature of the process
in changing now that there are residents on campus.”

Dean of Residence Life Henry Humphreys expects that changes will be made
to the security and procedures concerning the resident students. “Any
institution in the United States can always improve upon [student
safety],” said Humphreys. He said he is excited that the task force has
been established and that it is being conducted by an outside group.

Harrington said that the incident is “both tragic and serious” and that
“we want to ensure as best we can that this will never happen again.
But in the world in which we live, it’s very hard to say never.”
Harrington cited the university’s safety record, which he said is “a
very excellent safety record up till now,” and said that he does not
want to presume that because of the record this shooting was a
“haphazard kind of thing” that will never again occur.

Cory Mitchell, 22, of Yonkers, and 17 year-old Rashan Fray of Freeport
were shot on campus during an early morning altercation on March 11.
The victims were followed onto the campus after an argument at
Traditions, a local bar frequented by St. John’s University students.
Five shell casings were found at the scene. Mitchell, a St. John’s
student and football player, was hit in the back and critically wounded.
He has since been transferred to Burke Rehabilitation Center in
Westchester County. Fray was shot in the leg and released the day
after the shooting. Police arrested Chris Prince and charged him with
attempted murder, assault in the first degree and possession of a
weapon. His bail was set at $100,000, and he was released on bond at
$10,000. He is due back in court on Monday.

Bear Stearns has agreed to make Kelly available to the university for as
long as the review takes to complete. Kelly joined Bear Stearns March 1
after having served as commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service for
three years. He has also served as under secretary for enforcement at
the U.S. Treasury Department, where he supervised agencies including the
U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Secret Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the Office of
Foreign Assets Control. He has also served as vice president for the
Americas of Interpol, an international police organization. Kelly was
commissioner of the New York City Police Department, where he directed
the emergency response and investigation of the World Trade Center
bombing.