Instead of being treated like any other community group, it seems EPD's policy regarding students thus far has been "guilty until proven innocent," along with the infamous "sorry, the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply to you."
Consider: Roger Eugene Magaņa -- a former EPD officer who has been indicted on 51 charges ranging from rape to kidnapping to official misconduct in separate incidents -- joined officer Melvin Thompson to investigate a noise complaint at a students' residence.
The two officers arrived at the apartment of Phillip Piper and Julie Dickenson on Nov. 6, 2002, knocked on the door and obscured the peephole when Piper came to answer it, according to an official complaint. When the officers finally identified themselves, Piper became suspicious of their actions and refused to open the door without a warrant or visual identification.
The officers then contacted Eric Bradley, a tenant who was working as a maintenance person, and demanded a key to Piper and Dickenson's apartment. According to the complaint, Bradley initially refused, but gave up the key after the officers convinced him it was in his best interest.
Back at the scene of the "crime," the officers entered the apartment, ordered the people inside to sit on the couch and ransacked the rooms for more than an hour.
Nothing was found. No party was in progress. No meth was on the cooker.
The officers cited the tenants for a noise violation, which was later dropped in Eugene Municipal Court. The tenants, who have since sued, said the only noise coming from their apartment was a radio that wasn't even playing very loudly.
In June 2003, charges against University senior Patrick McEachern were dropped after a judge ruled evidence gathered against him was illegally uncovered. The charges of furnishing alcohol to minors, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and minor in possession stemmed from a party McEachern hosted at his Ducks Village apartment. When an EPD officer arrived at the party and couldn't get anybody to answer the door, he climbed onto the second-floor balcony and entered through a door. The officer then unlocked the front door and let other officers inside.
Eugene Municipal Court Judge Alan J. Leiman ruled that the officers lacked probable cause or a search warrant, and therefore the search was illegal.
Fast forward to February, this time under Lehner's watch. Undercover EPD officers, disguised as party-goers, infiltrated a gathering in the West University neighborhood in hopes of witnessing the unlawful sale of alcohol. The basis of their suspicions? A keg, obtained legally, was registered to the address. Their reasoning? To prevent a riot.
The fact that the students in all these examples may or may not have been committing a crime is irrelevant. What's important is that the police follow procedures that secure the rights of the innocent (i.e., anybody accused of a crime or suspected of a crime) until they are proven guilty in a court of law. When police fail to fulfill that imperative part of their job, they are ignoring a most basic tenant of public safety -- not to mention the U.S. Constitution.