An LSD arrest at Villanova University first had the NBC10 Investigators asking questions about how the university handles on-campus drug busts. In mid-February 2016, police arrested a Villanova freshman for selling drugs. But as NBC10 Investigators dug deeper, we found local police reports with little information supplied by Villanova, when it comes to drugs on campus.
Radnor Township Manager Bob Zienkowski told the NBC10 Investigators he believes there is an illegal drug problem at Villanova.
“I think there’s been ongoing problems for years there,” Zienkowski said.
Radnor Police Lieutenant Andy Block said his department needs more information from the school, so it can investigate.
“There's a fair amount of drugs that are being located on the campus. Where? That's the question," Block said.
Police reports obtained by the NBC10 Investigators show multiple occasions where Radnor officers picked up drugs and paraphernalia from Villanova. In the space meant for a narrative or explanation for the contraband, little or sometimes no information is written. Township officials consider this underreporting.
“There’s no names attached to them, so you have to be underreporting. I don’t see any other way around it. You have to be under reporting,” according to Zienkowski.
The Radnor Police Dept. says it needs more information so its officers can investigate and determine if police action is needed.
"The concerning part for law enforcement is that, yes, it might seem minor at the time, when you're dealing with a small amount of marijuana, but it could be considered broken windows theory if it leads to more illicit and more dangerous drugs being brought onto the campus," Block said.
Students we spoke with expressed concerns with underreporting.
“Just that level of honesty the administration has with us,” freshman Michael Dacanay said.
The NBC10 Investigators kept digging and found Villanova drug incidents reported to the government as part of a mandated program. In 2013 and 2014, Villanova reported 16 drug arrests. Over those same two years, there were 92 drug law referrals, or incidents resolved through disciplinary actions at the university, that may not involve police.
Villanova's Director of Public Safety agreed to speak with NBC10 Investigative Reporter Harry Hairston about how it deals with illegal drugs on campus, and its relationship with Radnor Police. Less than an hour before that interview was scheduled to take place, the university backed out.
Villanova University told the NBC10 Investigators in a statement:
Villanova University is committed to a community free of substance abuse. We have a strong, unwavering drug policy, and students found in violation of that policy are held accountable. There are a range of sanctions for violations of the University’s drug policy, up to and including suspension or expulsion. The process Villanova follows is a standard practice in higher education. As is required for all universities and colleges, these incidents are reported—under both federal and state reporting guidelines—and made publically available on the University’s website. These statistics are also proactively distributed to the campus community.
We work closely with Radnor Police through a long-standing and mutually-agreed process to handle incidents involving drugs. In fact, the University conducted the recent LSD investigation with their full knowledge, consent and cooperation. Given the collaborative and productive relationship we’ve established, the comments from Radnor Police are a surprise and frankly disappointing.