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7 Arrests But No Crime Alert After Armed Robbery of Rutgers Student

Amid Heightened Scrutiny, Rutgers Tried to Keep This Violent Crime Under Wraps
Rutgers in Sixth Ward
The armed robbery happened on Sicard Street near Morrell Street, and the arrests took place in front of the College Ave. Gym. Bing Maps

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers University officials confirmed that seven people were arrested and charged in connection with the armed robbery of a student near the intersection of Sicard and Morrell Streets.

The incident occurred at approximately 12:43 a.m. on September 7, according to a Rutgers spokesperson who defended the school's decision not to publicize the incident.

"A Rutgers student was assaulted by a group of males and the suspects demanded personal property from the victim. Responding officers recovered a knife and brass knuckles from the scene," said Rutgers' EJ Miranda.

Neither of the two major police departments that patrol in New Brunswick issued a press release, a social media post, or a Nixle alert. 

New Brunswick Today has learned that the arrests went down two blocks away near the univerity bus stop in front of the College Avenue Gym.

"As a result of the arrests, the threat was removed from the area and there was no need to issue a crime alert," said Miranda.

Miranda added that the seven people arrested were charged with aggravated assault and armed robbery, and all were "non-affiliated males," meaning they are not students, staff, or faculty.

The student victim sustained "minor injuries and refused medical attention."

The incident came just days after the shocking announcement that current and former Rutgers football players had been charged with similar violent crimes that took place in April.

Curiously, the university decided against publicizing the incident using its crime alert system, and it does not appear to have been listed in the RUPD's daily crime logs, which are made available online.

In some ways, Rutgers has become more transparent about its policing since the random murder of a former student brought a wave of bad publicity upon the school in February 2014.

The university was widely criticized for its response, or lack thereof, to the killing of Billy McCaw.  Five weeks later, the school announced an expansion of the school's crime alerts, and unprecedented cooperation with the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD).

Chancellor Richard Edwards wrote to the community at the time: "The university will inform its community of serious incidents against Rutgers students, faculty and staff in other parts of the city and areas surrounding the campuses when the university is made aware of any incidents."

But in other critically important ways, the university's police department has become less transparent since the tragedy.  

This time last year, New Brunswick Today would have been able to listen to the police radio transmissions of the RUPD, and determine most of the basic information about an incident like the one that happened on September 7.

But the university purchased expensive new radio equipment from Motorola Solutions, the company run by Greg Brown, the Chairman of the Rutgers Board of Governors.

Last fall, the RUPD's police radios began using encryption, making the transmissions unable to be heard by the public, which could previously listen for free through the internet and cellular phone applications.

New Brunswick Police Department's (NBPD) radio transmissions are still available online, but city officials have said they are going to put an end to that soon.

NBPD also signed up with Motorola, with Police Director Anthony Caputo insisting on the use of encryption technology.  The City Council unanimously approved $530,640.81 in spending on the project on August 5.