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Student put on probation, community service for taking photos

April 14, 2009

Brian Romanelli, a freshman communications major, received a rude welcome in his second semester at Temple – more than a semester of disciplinary probation and 20 hours of community service.

Romanelli was not drinking or being rowdy, though. He was taking pictures.
The photos were for a class, Photography for Filmmakers.

On March 17 around 5 p.m., Romanelli was sitting on the grass lawn between Broad Street and the Johnson and Hardwick residence halls. He saw a man exposing himself to Temple students walking on Broad Street past J&H. Soon after, two Temple Police officers arrived at the scene.

Courtesy Brian Romanelli

Courtesy Brian Romanelli

Romanelli got up from where he was sitting, and walked around the fence separating the sidewalk and the grass, stopping about 10 to 15 feet away to take pictures of the arrest.

He said one of the officers grabbed his arm, pushed him away and said “Get the f–k out of here.”

Romanelli moved back to the other side of the fence and took a few more pictures. Once handcuffs were on the man who exposed himself, Romanelli walked back to the gate, which was about 50 feet away from the police, and took more pictures of the arrest.
The same officer waved him away again, he said.

After the man was in a police van, the two police officers walked over to him.
“You don’t like to listen, do you?” Romanelli said the officer asked him.

Romanelli said the other officer grabbed him by his arm and pulled his wallet from his back pocket.

The police then checked Romanelli’s name to see if he had any outstanding warrants.
“I’m pretty sure I’m allowed to take pictures,’” Romanelli said.

He said the officer who first approached him said “not when the police tell you you can’t,’” Romanelli said.

“He said I was interfering with a police investigation,” he added.

After the officers took down his information, they left, Romanelli said.

“See you at [University Disciplinary Council],” an officer said.

The only witnesses called by the panel were the two officers, Romanelli said.
He called a friend to testify on his behalf.

The panel was made up of three faculty members and two undergraduate students, Ja’Nice Proctor and Chanelle Desir. The chair of the panel was Keith Gumery, an English professor.

The panel unanimously agreed Romanelli was at fault for failing to properly identify himself or to comply with the instructions or directions of a person acting in duly authorized university capacity and gave him disciplinary probation until the end of the Fall 2009 semester and 20 hours of community service, which they recommended he complete with Campus Safety.

Brian Foley, coordinator of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, said recommendations are “random” to some extent but can be based on the offense the student has committed.

“Sometimes we deal with certain violations that deal with someone not cooperating with police. We might refer them to Campus Safety,” Foley said.

The panel members are volunteers who go through a period of training, he said. The training includes the various violations of the student code of conduct and different kinds of sanctions, among other things.

Foley said there is an appeals process, which varies with the sanction.

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