Wording of CatAlert is cause for an apology by police

John Riedel, Staff Writer

The UVM community received an email from Chief of UVM Police Services Lianne Tuomey, apologizing for the wording of a UVM CatAlert about a sexual assault at FallFest sent Sept. 28.


“The wording in the CatAlert was significantly inappropriate as it served to insinuate that a victim may be partially to blame for not preventing sexual assault or misconduct,” according to the apology email.


SGA Vice President, Junior, Tyler Davis, said he was first informed about the error by Director of Student Life, Patrick Brown.


“I think he had been looking at and compiling sources throughout the day and he saw that one of our senators, Alyssa Johnson had drafted a resolution for that evening regarding the email wording,” Davis said.


The SGA changed  the resolution to show that they support the response by UVM Police to the wording error, Davis said.


“The use of the word ‘totally’ in relation to the victim made it sound like it would not be totally the victim’s fault implied some level would fall on part of the victim,” Davis said. “Our body, and I personally, feel it’s not appropriate for such a message from Police Services.”


Davis said he felt Toumey’s email was a “warranted but respectful response on their part.”


Director Brown expressed similar sentiments about Toumey’s email.


“Chief Toumey’s email was very appropriate for the situation,” Brown said. “It is always a concern when any message puts full or partial responsibility of sexual misconduct or assault on the victim/survivor.”


Toumey’s email cited the error as being taken from an outside source, put into the CatAlert, and not edited before the CatAlert was sent out.


“I, as the Chief of UVM Police Services, take full responsibility for this error. I am deeply sorry for this mistake, and for this critical error,” Toumey’s email stated.


The CatAlert has been edited and updated with the error removed. It is available online through a link in Toumey’s email.