WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue leaders laid out steps they said will ensure an incident like the viral arrest in February will not happen again on campus.
This comes one day after a special prosecutor announced charges would not be filed against the officer or student involved in the altercation.
In a statement, Purdue said the officer involved is now back on administrative duties while he takes training focused on deescalation.
Rodney Cummings, the Madison County Prosecutor and special prosecutor investigating this case, said the officer could have tried more deescalation tactics.
“I will say this, maybe the tactics could have been better, he could’ve spent some time deescalating the situation,” Cummings said.
Former Indianapolis Police Chief Troy Riggs said deescalation skills help protect officers and citizens.
“Always be friendly, always be approachable, talk a lot, learn those verbal skills that are so important,” Riggs said.
Purdue also said the Purdue Police Department would be opening up to an external review of the use of force policy and deescalation traing program.
“We need to train our officers on how to resolve things verbally but also give them the skills to resolve things physically in a quick manner,” said Riggs.
When it comes to force, Riggs said it needs to be limited, if possible.
“It has to be the minimum amount of force, and ideally you never have to use force, but this isn’t a perfect world,” he said.
Purdue also said it will remind the community its responsibility to listen and obey police officers commands. The student involved did not obey twice when the officer asked him to move to the rear of the car.
Riggs said listening to an officer can go along way to helping deescalate the situation. Purdue also said it is working to continue its commitment to recruiting a more diverse police force. A Black student leader will now be included on search committees for PUPD leadership positions, a move Riggs said will only help the department.
“When you have a diverse workforce, that is qualified, that wants to be there, is willing to be there, you’re going to see a stronger workforce as a result,” he said.
Riggs went on to commend Purdue for the moves it has laid out, but said furthering deescalation training and other methods to improve policing should not just happen when departments fall under speculation.
“It shouldn’t just come up during those times, it should be something that becomes the culture of police departments, it becomes the culture of the community,” Riggs said. “It’s something that’s just ingrained from the time you step foot in public safety and something we need to continue to focus on.”
The statement released by Purdue on Tuesday also stated the officer and student involved in the arrest met on campus to talk about the incident.
“I apologize for the impact of my actions on the night of February 4, 2022,” the officer said. “I have privately spoken with Adonis and his mother, Ms. Cornelia Dawson, to express my sincere apologies to them. I fully acknowledge how my actions and the images of this event have called into question the safety and belonging of Purdue’s Black community. I am very sorry for that.”
The student said he appreciated the opportunity to meet with the officer, as well.
“Through this experience I’ve come to understand that Purdue and PUPD are committed to positive community policing and providing a healthy and safe environment for Black Boilermakers,” the student said. “I recently had the opportunity to meet Officer Selke and learn more about his background and his family, and to understand his own personal history and service in the military and as a PUPD officer. We had a productive conversation, and I’m committed to working with him, the Purdue police, my fellow students, and the broader university community to forge a positive path forward.”
You can see the full statement on the Purdue website.
We reached out to Purdue, the lawyer of the student involved in the altercation and the Purdue Black Student Union for this story. None wanted to do an interview.