By Favian Quezada and Cory McCoy
Campus Police Officers Monty Ward and Josh Lowry have been suspended without pay for insubordination after refusing to follow orders not to leave their jurisdiction.
The suspensions came after the two officers responded to a fight and alleged gunshots at the off campus apartment complex Varsity Place on Sat. , Nov. 17.
This is the latest in a series of alleged assaults at Varsity Place this semester. Varsity Place has had a troubled history as an off-campus residence option for Tyler Junior College and UT Tyler Students. In the past three years, it has undergone name changes and many more changes in management in attempts to curb the issues with crime on the property.
Fred Peters, director of public affairs and grant development, has responded to the Pow Wow with this statement:
“Officers Josh Lowry and Monty Ward have been suspended without pay until completion of an investigation concerning their response to a report of a fight off campus Tuesday night. The Tyler PD worked the alleged fight investigation. TJC police were not requested. The officers allegedly left their jurisdiction without cause.”
It should be noted that no official press release has been sent out at this time.
The suspended officers have retained attorney Bill Hommel to defend them. Technically, the campus police officers do have jurisdiction anywhere in Smith County when asked for aid by the Tyler Police Department. However, campus officials say they ignored an order not to respond Saturday evening. It is unclear who gave this order and when.
“I think they did the right thing. That’s the only job a cop has is to do the right thing. As for safety concerns, it doesn’t matter if the cops are there every day. The apartments themselves don’t care enough about safety to make anyone feel secure,” said Varisity resident and theatre major Grace McDonald.
“Currently we have 19 certified peace officers … As far as staffing, it is not uncommon to be down a couple officers, due to vacancies, vacation/sick days, regular days off, attending trainings etc. The campus police will continue to operate with police officers on duty 24/7/365 as normal. If at anytime we need additional officers we can bring them in on an overtime basis,” said Dr. Tom Johnson, executive director of the campus police and director of the Law Enforcement Academy. “Chief Melton ensures we have adequate police protection for the college at all times.”
Ward and Lowry have been adviced by their attorney not to speak to the media at this time.