In the aftermath of two falsely reported crimes, University of Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano this week sent an e-mail to students warning that such reports "unjustly target people of color" and create a climate of fear on campus.
The first episode involved a CU student who Boulder police say made a false claim in January of being assaulted by a black man with a knife on University Hill.
Nina Fiorillo, 20, was ticketed on suspicion of filing a false report in that incident. She pleaded not guilty and is due in court April 20 for a case management conference, according to Catherine Olguin, spokeswoman for the Boulder County District Attorney's Office.
The second case, which occurred in February, involved a non-student who Boulder police say made a false accusation of a knife attack and robbery by a Hispanic man. Police ticketed Max Redmond, 24, on suspicion of false reporting after they say he admitted he made up the story to get attention from family and friends. He, too, has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a pre-trial conference May 15.
"False accusations compromise a personal sense of safety and contribute to a climate of fear in our community that limits the freedom of movement, expression and learning," DiStefano wrote in the e-mail. "False allegations not only violate the law and our student conduct code, they are also counter to the core values and principles that we strive to uphold at CU-Boulder."
DiStefano went on to ask that students examine their own biases and stereotypes that may lead to harm to others.
"We need to hold each other accountable to a higher standard of human conduct and interaction," DiStefano wrote. "That starts with a basic commitment to being truthful, especially about issues that impact the safety of our community."
Bronson Hilliard, spokesman for the Boulder campus, said that diversity and having an inclusionary campus are bedrock principles of the university.
"We're being vocal about this because it impacts every person of color on our staff, faculty and in our student body, and even our visitors to campus," Hilliard said. "We felt it was important to make a statement of our values."
Boulder Police spokeswoman Kim Kobel said officers become suspicious of false reports when alleged victims' details of events change or don't add up.
"False reporting is a problem because it takes up a number of resources that could be directed toward a crime that actually occurred," she said.
Kobel said people who make false reports oftentimes are doing so to gain attention.
False reporting is a class 3 misdemeanor in Colorado, punishable by up to six months in jail and up to a $750 fine.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.