After a firestorm over social media, Troy University’s administration is dispelling false rumors of people impersonating police officers or sex traffickers on campus. An email sent to all students from student services says there have been “no documented reports of police impersonators or any individuals that have been identified as potential sex traffickers.”
“We’ve had zero reports,” said Troy University Police Chief John McCall. “There’s been no reports of women accosted or abducted that’s come to university police.”
The paranoia stemmed from a religious group on campus who tried to talk to students. After some students researched the group, they found that a member of the religious organization had been involved in an abduction in Portland, Oregon, years ago, McCall stated.
Students from colleges in that area began sharing safety posts, which spread like wildfire across college social media accounts.
McCall said university police checked the group out, and while they were not allowed to be on campus and were escorted off, they were from Montgomery and not causing any harm.
“There’s nothing suspicious about what they’re doing,” he said.
McCall also said the only report of police impersonation was at an event where a man was seen wearing security clothes, but police verified he was a legitimate security guard and not a problem.
While university police refuted the rumors, they still urge students to report any suspicious activity, and “be extra vigilant and take care of each other,” said the email from administration.
“You don’t ever have to open your door if there’s a police officer outside without verifying their identity first,” McCall said. “Call 911 and dispatchers can verify their identity.”
He said 911 dispatchers can also verify any officers making traffic stops; while you must still pull over, a real police officer will be understanding if you feel you need to verify them.
He encourages students to travel in groups, and he says to take care not to accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
McCall said one of the most important aspects of on-campus safety is alerting police of suspicious activity.
“It does us no good to find out about something that happened on Tuesday on Friday from a post,” he said.
While students should look out for others’ safety, McCall warned about reposting stories which may or may not be true.
“Don’t repost these stories,” he said. “If you can’t verify them, don’t repost them.”
Troy University Police can be reached at 334-670-3215, and the City of Troy Police can be reached at 334-566-0500.