A 1977 Chronology

(Compiled from BG News articles)


Black Student Union (BSU) takes concerns about campus police department to BGSU Board of Trustees.


BSU unveils its proposal for a police review board in an interview with The BG News. The proposal calls for the establishment of a board of representatives composed of students, faculty and administrators to oversee the campus police department, including hiring and firing authority. Board is necessary, says BSU, due to “police incompetence” and mistreatment of students.

BSU formally presents its police board proposal to the BGSU Board of Trustees.

Front page lead story in The BG News reveals that the BSU police review board proposal is not a new idea. Three administrators had proposed formation of a police review board 1 ? years earlier in a memo to George Postich, vice president operations. BSU attached this earlier memo written by the trio of administrators to its own proposal to show the idea was believed to have had merit by others.

BGSU Board of Trustees very quickly responds to the BSU concerns brought forward about the campus police department by announcing the formation of an ad hoc police panel (not to be confused with proposed police review board to monitor the police department) composed of two trustees, two administrators, two faculty and two students to conduct hearings, study and, finally, recommend solutions to problems that have plagued the campus police department, according to BSU members, for at least 30 years.


Ad hoc panel conducts its first session consisting of three hours of testimony about the campus police department. Participants include George Postich, vice president of operations, and Lt. Roger A. Daoust, who discuss everything from security at concerts to budgets and proper procedures for arrests. Panel names M. Shad Hanna, BGSU trustee, its chairman and spokesman. BSU and the press ask that hearings be open to the news media.

BG News series investigates several specific cases that BSU claims to have documented to illustrate police harassment and its dissatisfaction with the police department. The stories examine allegations of illegal searches at campus concerts, racial and sexual discrimination, physical and verbal assault, denial of students’ constitutional rights and failure to respond to calls for help.

A “man on the street” interview finds that more than 50 percent of college students are aware that the campus police controversy has become a major issue and express their views about it.

Getting some much needed favorable press, University Police were commended for keeping things under control at recent concerts, especially a Bob Seeger concert, described as “the rowdiest concert of the year.” Much of the success was attributed to new procedures put in place by the college administration which prohibit police from conducting student searches at concerts but allow them only to confiscate illegal substances “visible to the eye.”

Ad hoc panel continues hearing testimony from university groups about police operations. The panel denies the request by BSU and the press to open its meetings. BSU members then ask that at least their own testimony be open to the press. However, the panel decides the press may hear a group’s opening statement only, at its request, but not the entire testimony.


BSU takes its case files to the ad hoc panel to give examples of some of the problems students have been complaining about. Panel continues its work during the summer months.


Lt. Roger Daoust resigns and is replaced by Lt. Dean H. Gerkens as acting chief.


As students return to school after summer vacation, University Police announce a 24 percent drop in dorm crime, such as theft and vandalism, during the preceding year. Police attribute the drop to more patrols in residence halls. However, the campus police department continues to be plagued by resignations.

Ad hoc panel hears from its last witness and says its final report and recommendations should be completed by mid-November. Deliberations begin.

“Panel mum on police deliberations” is the lead story headline on Sept. 27. “We are dealing with people’s lives and careers,” says one unnamed panel member after a three-hour session.


Hanna says in a status report to the Board of Trustees that the ad hoc panel spent 50 hours during the course of 15 meetings interviewing 25 witnesses representing the administration, police and student groups. Panel members also visited police departments at other universities and studied reports on police policies and procedures. Hanna said no information will be released as the panel continues to deliberate until a final report is completed. “Neither the University’s interest nor any one individual’s interest would be served by treating the work of the panel in piecemeal fashion,” he said.

Headline Oct. 12 is “Police morale at all-time low because of harassment charges.”

Seven officers — half the department — have resigned just since the formation of the panel in April. Lt. Gerkens attributes the resignations to the ongoing controversy, and expects three more officers to quit shortly. Those who remain fear abolishment of the department, he said, adding that they are aren’t making many arrests so they don’t get criticized. Gerkens said that had the ad hoc panel proceedings been open, it would have helped dispel the rumors that made his officers anxious. “They’re good officers. They’re out there trying to do their job and all they’re doing is getting criticized for it,” he said. He also said the accusations of harassment were not true and if anybody was being harassed, it was the police – by students and the media. He said he has not observed a serious problem in the three years he has been with the department, adding, “If there was (a problem) there can’t be anymore because there isn’t anybody here anymore. A police officer cannot exist here.”

Lt. Gerkens, upset with BG News reporter Julie Rollo for her story on a confidential report of an officer who was suspended, threatened a lawsuit against her if she did not tell him where she got the report. BG News editors, deciding this constituted harassment of their reporter, responded with a stinging editorial. However, the dispute soon blew over.

With two weeks remaining before the final report is due out, BSU submits its own recommendations, many of which the ad hoc panel did use in its own final report. Among them: psychological screening of police officer candidates, human relations training and behavioral instruction, an increase in minority representation on the force and establishment of a police review board.


BSU demands that the university reopen the case of a black student convicted of attempted rape on campus in 1976. BSU supported the man in his claim of innocence, saying he was “railroaded for the sake of expediency.” University officials responded that the conviction was upheld by the appeals court, pointing out the only avenue left is consideration by the Ohio Supreme Court. VP Richard Edwards said the university “is constrained by the judicial process from reopening the case.”

On Nov. 10, The BG News publishes what was actually the second draft of the ad hoc police panel’s report and recommendations, ahead of the official report’s release, set for 10 a.m. The long-awaited report, following seven months of hearings and study, calls for a campus safety department with an emphasis on service rather than law enforcement. The panel found problems including attitudes, insubordination, ineffective grievance procedures and inappropriate police conduct such as search and seizure and taking photos of students not charged with an offense. Among recommendations are the hiring of more minorities, in-service training, improved recruitment procedures, a student involvement program and establishment of a police review board.

The final report and recommendations of the ad hoc police panel are accepted by the BGSU Board of Trustees before a packed gallery in McFall Center at 10 a.m. Nov. 10. Trustees moved that the administration put a plan in place to implement the recommendations and begin a search for a director of the new department of campus safety. Part of the new emphasis on service recommends that jackets and trousers replace traditional uniforms and that officers travel on foot, bicycle or moped rather than in cruisers.

Lt. Gerkens, in a presentation to students, maintained as he had all along that there was never any evidence of police harassment of students and that he did not believe the law enforcement function of the department should ever become secondary to service. He said it would be very expensive to implement some of the recommendations ($1,000 per officer for the new blazer-type uniforms, for example) and called some of the recommendations “way out,” like officers riding mopeds in the winter.

President Hollis A. Moore Jr. and Vice President Operations George Postich said a search for a new director of the department could take two months and they were unsure how many of the panel’s recommendations would be feasible and implemented.


The campus community voted the police problems and police panel report and recommendations the top story of 1977.