Students deliver letters in support of Chief Grady to NIU leaders

By Brooke Shinberg

NIU Police Chief Donald Grady received support from a group of students Friday.

Randiss Hopkins, junior music education major, and Eric Evans, junior political science major, led students on a walk to support the NIU police. Hopkins said the walk was done for the whole department, and was not entirely about Grady.

“The situation with Grady is a reflection of the Police Department,” he said.

Grady was put on paid leave on Nov. 10 as a result of a court finding in the Andrew Rifkin case. The court found the NIU police had withheld two witness statements in the case of Rifkin, who is a former NIU police officer. Rifkin was charged with sexual assault in November 2011. Rifkin’s attorney argued the NIU police did not give two witness statements to the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s office.

The witness statements are from people who said the actions between Rifkin and his alleged victim were consensual, according to a motion filed by the defense. NIU Police Lt. Kartik Ramakrishnan said he mistakenly put the witness statements in the wrong folder.

Judge Robbin Stuckert said it was clear to her there was a purposeful hiding of the statements by the NIU Police Department.

Grady has been put on administrative paid leave several times while at NIU. On Oct. 12, 2009, Grady was placed on paid administrative leave as the university reviewed his performance following an Oct. 8, 2009, Northern Star editorial calling for Grady’s dismissal. An independent panel tasked with reviewing Grady’s performance found no evidence of misconduct or inappropriate actions. Grady was also on paid leave on October 2006, when he left NIU for a year to serve as an adviser to the Iraqi minister of interior.

The group delivered four letters to the offices of the NIU administration and police department. They visited NIU President John Peters; Eddie Williams, executive vice president of Finance and Facilities and chief of operations; Darren Mitchell, acting NIU Police Chief; and Bill Nicklas, acting director of public safety.

Evans and Hopkins personally handed their letters to Mitchell and Nicklas. Peters and Williams had left their office for the day. Peters’ letter was given to Jerry Blakemore, vice president and general counsel, to deliver to Peters. Williams’ letter was given to his secretary.

“I am glad to see you the students exercising your right to be heard,” Blakemore said.

Evans said the group is fighting for a fair trial. Hopkins said the group of students stands by its mission statement: innocent until proven guilty. Hopkins said the witness statements in the trial of Rifkin were accidentally misplaced. If the NIU police wanted to withhold those statements, they would have shredded it, he said.

Hopkins said the students were delivering the letters because he and others wanted the students’ voices to be heard.

At the end of the walk, Evans encouraged students to write their own letters if they had more to say. He said if necessary, he will deliver them.