On Monday October 29th, Izaia Bullock, a Rutgers University football player, was arrested due to an alleged plot to kill family members of his ex-girlfriend. On Tuesday 22 year old Izaia Bullock was charged with two counts of attempted murder in the first degree, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, one count of cyber harassment in the fourth degree, and was subsequently dismissed from the team.
Bullock was charged as a result of an investigation by the Rutgers University Police Department and the Middle-sex County Prosecutor’s Office. He is currently being held at the Middle-sex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick pending an initial court appearance.
The perplexing issue here; what exactly happened between the University investigation and the filing of criminal charges? Within the current social climate, and in consideration of recent top sports news, should the NCAA revisit its policy regarding internal investigations and the involvement of local law enforcement? What impact does Title IX have on situations such as these?
Generally, Title IX and also the Clery Act (20 U.S.C. Section 1092(f)), requires that “Campus Security Authorities” within state universities report crime to local law enforcement agencies in a timely fashion. The Clery Act defines campus security authorities as positions having significant responsibility for student or campus activities, positions advising students, positions having a role in campus security, positions related to coaching an athletic team, and positions leading an office or department. Further, the Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to disseminate an annual public security report to employees and students every year on October 1st.
The Annual Security Report (“ASR’s”) must also include policy statements relating to reporting of crime, campus facility security and access, law enforcement authority, incidence of alcohol and drug use, and the prevention of/response to sexual assault, domestic or dating violence, and stalking. Rutgers University is unique in the way that its campus police works; the University maintains a full-time police department with officers commissioned by the State of New Jersey’s Police Training Commission, who possess full enforcement authority of federal and state laws as well as local ordinances.
According to Rutgers University’s 2018 ASR, “University police have full enforcement authority to investigate criminal activity and arrest anyone involved in illegal acts, both on and off properties owned and/or controlled by Rutgers throughout the state.”
The RU-PD has established a close working relationship with state and local police agencies, and communicates with local law enforcement at the scene of incidents that occur in and around the campus. Rutgers University maintains a written memorandum of understanding between the RU-PD and local police departments for the investigation of criminal offenses. Now that we have established some of the law that surrounds the charges filed against Bullock, we must now apply those guidelines to what allegedly happened in this instance.
Izaia Bullock, 22, a former Rutgers University linebacker played at Linden High School in New Jersey before graduating in 2014, joining the Rutgers football team in 2017, and eventually ending up a red shirt junior this current season. Bullock has only actually played in one game for Rutgers – September 22 against Buffalo.
Bullock was described by Rutgers coach Chris Ash as “a good teammate” who “performed well academically and participated in several community service events” and “demonstrated the positive behaviors that we ask of all our student-athletes.” Ash also went on to state that “over the past two weeks, we witnessed changes in his behavior. He has been dealing with some personal issues and we made him aware of counseling resources intended to help student-athletes through difficult times.”
According to an NJ advance media report, Bullock was deeply saddened following his recent breakup with a longtime girlfriend and eventually made comments that were taken as threats against the woman’s family. Bullock made one of his coaches aware of the trouble he was having, and actually missed a practice to take time to address the issue. The coach who spoke with Bullock also suggested that he take advantage of the school counselor, which Bullock did Monday, October 29th. After leaving his counseling session, Bullock allegedly met with a teammate to talk. The threatening comments at the heart of this investigation were allegedly made during the conversation that ensued, which was recorded by Bullock’s teammate.
At this time, the contents of the recording have not been released to the public, however, according to the complaint filed by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, in that conversation Bullock solicited the help of his teammate to effectuate his plan. The recording was then turned over to coaching staff, who then informed a supervisor, and the RU-PD eventually took the lead in the investigation.
The complaint also indicates that Bullock attempted murder by “acquiring gloves, crushing up Tylenol, possessing and makes and looking up the location of the victim’s home as well as soliciting the assistance of another person.”
That was a lot. I know. Let’s get some perspective; this is a huge issue to tackle. While the relationship between local authorities and campus police is vital to the safety of students on campuses across the country, are we comfortable with full-fledged police departments on college campuses? In light of the current state of collegiate athletics, and the immense scrutiny that universities have been under, was this the most appropriate and efficient way to move forward? What did that recording say? What role did the counselor play in this investigation, if any? While we ponder these questions, Bullock will be held in the Middle-sex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick New Jersey.