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Investigators should be Investigating

Betsy DeVos

It's sexy to be a sleuth. Most people, excluding future Saturday Night Live hosts, Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett, admire someone who can solve the case. Being the all-knowing force in a chaotic room, can be intoxicating to some, even to those with impressive SAT scores. The problem, is that most individuals associated with colleges and universities, are put into the "sleuth" role with little or no qualifications as the result of the Obama Administration's, well-meaning but delusional, "Dear Colleague" letter, which permitted amateurs to take a stab at investigating Title IX complaints. Impartiality is the cornerstone of investigative work.

Currently few, if any, Dean of Students possess investigative experience, and the ones that do often concern themselves with the possibility of negatively impacting the brand of the institution. Thereby setting the scene for anything but an impartial investigation.

In my twenty years of law-enforcement experience I've worked alongside brilliant individuals and others with sub-par performance. It is often the luck of the draw that determines who is assigned a case. However, students have a much better chance for a fair investigation if it is done by law-enforcement professionals rather than someone who is not experienced in forensics, or who is too close to the participants. Don't simply believe me, ask any parent or guardian who they rather conduct an investigation; an investigation that could destroy their child's life? A professional investigator with limitless resources, or an academic or school administrator with no investigative experience?

Many who work in the security departments at institutions of higher education cannot prioritize quickly under the duress of a sexual assault investigation. Some things to consider: Do they spend time addressing an alleged victim's emotional and/or physical state? Have they undergone trauma-informed training? Do they hold the integrity of one or more investigative/crime scenes? Do they identify possible evidence and document the chain of evidence? Do they address crowd control, if the allegation occurred at a party or public event? Do they attempt to separate and interview witnesses? And all of these things often happen instantaneously. Simply, security departments and investigative "actors" cannot and should not do the job.

The job should be left to the professionals.

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