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Notes left on bank lead to complaint against APD officer
After reprimanding three Ohio University students for putting up what were meant to be supportive Post-it notes at the scene of an alleged rape Uptown, Athens Police officer Neal Dicken is facing an informal complaint.
The students, in a verbal complaint to APD, said Dicken made offensive remarks during a roughly 10-minute lecture. Dicken took their IDs, the students said, for vandalizing Chase bank, 2 S. Court St., where another OU student was allegedly raped Homecoming Weekend.
“I don’t know where you could find Post-it notes that could damage a building,” said Alex Doherty, a senior studying sociology who was part of the group that brought the complaint. “Certainly not at Staples.”
APD Chief Tom Pyle said the department is looking into the complaint.
Students began leaving Post-it notes Tuesday evening at the site of the alleged rape on Homecoming Weekend. Emily Harper, a fifth-year senior studying international business and marketing, said the original notes were taken down within a half hour, although Harper said she didn’t initially think it was the police who took them down.
Harper said she went back later the same night with Doherty and Brigid Iverson, a senior studying sociology and political science, to put up a new wave of notes.
The group had begun posting supportive messages when a police officer approached them and said it was vandalism to post the notes on the building.
“He proceeded to tell us that what we were doing was tearing the town apart,” Harper said. “He told us that he knew the facts of the case because he was the person who filed the initial report.”
Doherty said he tried to turn the conversation to a debate.
“It was a lecture at first until at one point he was really, really wrong,” Doherty said. “At that point I started debating with him. I tried to get my point across, but he’s a cop. I felt that I couldn’t speak my mind because he had my ID.”
Dicken returned the students’ IDs and told them to go on their way, the students said. No citations were given.
Harper said she submitted a complaint to APD on Thursday.
The complaint was verbal, and Pyle said a written version does not exist.
“This individual brought forward to a supervisor in our department some concern, and I’m comfortable in saying that we’re going to address her concerns,” Pyle said.
The process the department follows involving complaints against an officer is similar to how the department addresses a criminal complaint, Pyle said.
“We would interview witnesses and interview the officers, just as is the case with any criminal complaint,” Pyle said. “We try to find out what happened.”
The department deals with a couple of similar complaints each year.
“I think our officers are community-relations minded,” Pyle said. “I don’t think we have officers that intentionally go around offending people.”
‘Blowing Off Steam’
Harper said she felt Dicken’s comments were out of line and that he tried to intimidate a group of students.
“I understood why he told us to stop doing what we were doing,” Harper said. “There was no need for the lecture. No need for him to tell us what we were doing is pointless.”
She added that it seemed as if Dicken were blowing off steam because he was sick of media coverage on the alleged rape, which was reported by several national media outlets and even made its way to a British publication’s website.
“But it’s a good thing that this has been brought to light so that the university and the town can’t shy away from this culture anymore,” Harper said. “Literally, the world is watching us right now. If we as a community were responding with any less intensity than we are right now, we would be even more scrutinized.”