Another dorm at Dutchess Community College? Crime reports on increase at DCC

Since a residence hall was built at Dutchess Community College (DCC) in 2011 and started housing students for the 2012–13 school year, the college has seen an increase in crime, which has caught the attention of the Dutchess County legislature. A year into the construction, a change-order form signed by DCC treasurer W. John Dunn directly states furnishing and installing “an upsized sanitary lift station to accommodate a second future similarly sized building” to the planned project for the residence hall dated July 13, 2011.


When DCC president David Conklin and spokesperson Judi Stokes were contacted about plans for more dorms, Stokes said there are no plans to build another residence hall. 


Yet the change-order form appears to indicate a real possibility that another residence hall similar in size to Conklin Hall will be built in the future. DCC contracted with Kirchhoff-Consigli Construction Management LLC to build to the residence hall, and with the change-order submitted to the college by Kirchhoff’s project executive, Mark Zych, with the addition, the project is set to increase by $63,781 to $23,782,741. 


County legislators Michael Kelsey and Angela Flesland expressed unease with the amount of crime occurring in Conklin Hall. 


“I have serious concerns with the alleged activities happening in the dorms and lack of oversight,”
Flesland said.  “As a graduate of Dutchess Community College and someone who feels the college has the ability to be something positive for so many members of the community, the college needs to take much more proactive measures to address the issues arising in Conklin Hall.”


Flesland told TMI that the legislature requested that the college’s administration provide them with security calls and reports regarding incidents occurring in the residence hall.  Yesterday, nearly two months later, the reports arrived at the legislature.   


Kelsey said he believes the college is leaning toward building another residence hall.  President Conklin has continued to appear before the legislature requesting funds for future capital projects, including a recent plan to acquire land to build another parking lot.  Kelsey, like Flesland, talked about crimes occurring in Conklin Hall.  He said there have been instances of prostitution, sexual assaults, and fights breaking out among the residence-hall students. 


After hearing from the two county legislators, TMI decided to take a look at the police records from the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department. After a freedom-of-information request, 12 case reports were provided from the 2012–13 school year involving residence hall students. Names of the students were redacted, or blacked out, but the details of the crimes were provided. 


The more serious crimes involved drug overdoses and a sexual assault. On September 27, 2012, three Poughkeepsie police officers responded to reports of an intoxicated male in Conklin Hall.  The student was transported to Saint Francis Hospital. The officers reported the next morning that the student was not intoxicated but that they believed it was a drug-related incident, since the student was still intubated at the hospital. Another drug overdose was reported by the police on October 2, at lunchtime. According to the narrative, Fairview, a fire and rescue squad, was dispatched after the officer responded to the unresponsive male in Conklin Hall near the cafeteria. The student was transported to Saint Francis Hospital for drug-abuse problems. On that same day, Fairview was again on scene for a student who was found snorting Xanax in his or her dorm room. Officers were conducting what they classified as a “welfare check” on the individual. The student was transported for medical reasons. 


Three officers responded to a sexual assault on November 16, 2012. Three female victims were at the scene at the college when police arrived. Two of the females said the male harassed them and declined to press charges, but the third female was transported to Saint Francis Hospital after the male sexually assaulted her. A day later the male suspect was taken into custody and held on a $2,000 bond. An order of protection against him was issued by the court on November 20. 


Other reports detail larceny cases between the residence-hall students. One case detailed a stolen laptop, as part of a larger harassment case between the students. Most of the larceny cases involved expensive technology.


As Kelsey alluded to, there have been instances of prostitution. One student is making quite a name for herself in the online amateur porn business. A Google search of her name plus “Dutchess Community College” yields several pages of online porn websites advertising her first sex tape—with the college’s name included on all of the websites. Yet TMI was unable to track her down, so it is not known whether she made any money from the tape or other encounters. The Poughkeepsie police records released did not include any description of that instance. What one police report did describe was a complaint from a female residence-hall student who stated that she has been contacted repeatedly after an ad was placed on Craigslist that advertised that the student was looking for casual encounters in the North Jersey area. From the complaint, it appears the female student did not place the ad herself but was the victim of a computer crime. 


The Poughkeepsie Police Department issued a breakdown of police calls from DCC from 2009 to 2013 by call classification. The total call breakdown shows that police calls increased at DCC from 2011 to 2012 by 55.5 percent, from 117 calls in 2011 to 182 calls in 2012.  Most of the serious police calls had to do with rape, robbery and drug possession or overdose, relatively new crimes at the college.


Kelsey believes so much crime is occurring because the college is not set up for having residential students. Unlike at other colleges, at which the gym is free for students, at DCC students are charged to use the weight room. In addition, he has previously told TMI that the college does not have enough activities and clubs to give students something to do on campus. 


Flesland does not want to appropriate funds to DCC without having the questions from the legislature answered, including those about the crime occurring in the residence halls. 


“I sincerely hope the college administration does not expect us to appropriate funds without having our questions answered,” Flesland said.