It’s definitely a reality check when it happens this close to home, said Jourdan Richard, a Montgomery Hall resident.
Sunday at about 8:15 p.m., two people, one of whom was armed with a handgun, allegedly entered a dorm room in Montgomery Hall and stole property from the residents. The residents were present during the incident but did not report the case to University Police until about 9:05 p.m. Monday, according to a police safety notification.
Students had mixed reactions about this notification’s delay.
Montgomery Hall resident Olga Zhigunova said she was “glad” these students reported the incident, but she also voiced her concerns regarding the timing.
“Safety is definitely a really important part of living on campus and we have to work together to keep students safe,” said Zhigunova, a sophomore marketing major. “I’m glad they reported it, [but] I’m a little worried that they reported it late, but we all need to take the proper precautions so we can prevent things like this from happening.”
Police spokesman Maj. Marc Limansky also shared his concerns and addressed the importance of reporting these kinds of crimes soon after they occur.
“We rely on timely reporting of incidents to better enable, to better respond and to look for the individuals who may have committed the offense or talk to witnesses who may be in the area still,” he said. “Timely reporting is critical to allow us to get valuable information that will otherwise be lost immediately following. Once 24 hours goes by, it becomes difficult to obtain any information that may have otherwise been there.”
The late notice will “make [the investigation] a little more difficult,” he added.
However, Richard said she could understand why the victims waited before reporting the incident to the police.
“Honestly, in their situation, they were probably trying to figure it out and just as scared as anyone else would be,” the hearing and speech sciences major said. “I’m not sure what I would do in that situation. I’m glad they did report it, though. Regardless, I’m glad we have police people on board.”
Although the incident was reported late, Zhigunova said she and her suitemates are using this as a learning opportunity to improve their safety on the campus.
“We were definitely a little afraid because the person knocked at first. They didn’t just break in, so we could’ve just opened the door [too],” Zhigunova said, “We decided to finally start locking our door; we’ve been meaning to do that for a while. This morning we texted our group chat and decided to finally get around to doing that.”
Sophomore Andrew Shapiro said this “eye-opening experience” has also encouraged him and his suitemates to lock their door “all the time.”
“I think it was handled well; I don’t know much about what was going on when it was happening,” the marketing major said. “The university is trying to keep us safe, and that’s obviously a good thing.”
Safety notices are meant to inform students and the community of nonlife-threatening incidents on the campus and in the surrounding community, Limansky said. These emails sometimes take a few hours or up to a day to be sent out because police have to verify information and clarify it before releasing it to the public. However, if this incident had been reported immediately after it occurred, then it would have been issued as a UMD Alert, he added.
UMD Alerts are sent out via text messages to subscribers and via email to all students, Limansky said. These alerts are usually sent out immediately when there is a life-threatening situation in the surrounding area.
“We put out the safety notice today, but it’s a day and a half later. Had we found out last night, we could have issued a text alert in an effort to inform community members of a threat to their safety,” Limansky said. “If we had made an arrest, then we wouldn’t have sent anything. It’s not intended as a news source; it’s intended as a safety notice for people to make safe decisions.”