Police are right to insist they be told promptly

When is the correct time for law enforcement to intervene in an “investigation” at a school?
That was the big question I took away from last week’s probable cause hearing at the courthouse in Pittsboro involving the Bruce Police Department, School Superintendent Mike Moore and Bruce High School Principal Michael Gillespie.

Joel McNeece

Joel McNeece

The school officials are charged with failing to report an alleged sex crime to proper authorities as state law dictates.
It was clear in testimony at the more than three hour hearing that they didn’t contact law enforcement at any time, but their justification was they were still investigating the matter and didn’t believe they had enough evidence to warrant reporting it to law enforcement.

Bruce Policeman Corey Alexander, who after receiving a call from the Department of Human Services led the investigation that quickly resulted in the arrest of Loray Jordan Jr. for touching a child for lustful purposes, stated adamantly on the stand he believes school officials should have contacted law enforcement the second they received any kind of allegation.

Sup. Mike Moore testified that it was Alexander’s investigation that produced the facebook message from the teacher to the student that warranted Jordan’s arrest. Moore said if they had seen that, they would have reported it immediately.
Gillespie testified that the student attempted to show him the facebook message, but school officials aren’t supposed to have access to personal accounts on social media so he didn’t look at it, only encouraged the student to keep it.

This would appear to bolster Alexander’s argument that matters this serious in nature should be reported immediately to law enforcement so they can utilize their authority to properly investigate and either dismiss it as unfounded or more promptly reach a conclusion.
How many more encounters between the student and charged teacher/coach may have taken place if Bruce Police didn’t get involved while school officials were still investigating?

School officials often point out that students’ safety is their top priority. That’s not evident from the testimony at last week’s hearing.
This entire, sad sequence of events is a reflection of the pattern of secrecy that exists in not just this, but many school districts. We need more openness, especially from individuals who are supposed to be leaders in the community. If you don’t learn from history, then you are doomed to repeat it. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to experience this again.

Email Joel McNeece at joelmcneece@gmail.com