|Thursday, January 20, 2000||
Volume 65, Issue 77
Forsberg on buzzwords
Ed De La Garza
Justice for all ... right?
Normally, when police do their job, they're lauded for following through with their duty, regardless of the consequences. That wasn't the case with UH Police Chief George Hess.
Upon learning that star athlete Mike DeRouselle was suspended from the Cougar football squad for committing a third-degree felony, Hess went to the district attorney. DeRouselle had violated terms of his probation, which was put in effect for a felony committed three years earlier.
In 1996, DeRouselle forged a roommate's signature on stolen checks and proceeded to cash them. He was sentenced to five years probation. In August '98, DeRouselle forged an athletic department coordinator's signature to purchase $700 worth of textbooks which he later sold on campus -- a clear violation of his probation.
Against administrators' wishes that the DeRouselle case be handled by UH alone, Hess informed his superiors, namely Randy Harris, vice president for administration and finance and John Martin, associate vice president for administration, that he would be taking the matter to the District Attorney. The UH defensive tackle was found guilty and given a four-year sentence for forging a government document.
Job well done -- one would think. Hess made sure justice was carried out. DeRouselle broke the law and deserved to be punished with more than just a four-game suspension.
However, a week after DeRouselle was sentenced, Hess was fired. The administration insists that Hess has since been reinstated, though his position is being "re-evaluated."
A new University policy was enacted in September '99 stating that the police department need not be notified in all cases of crime on campus. Crimes of theft, fraud, or embezzlement do not have to be reported to the police, leaving that decision to administrators.
Randy Harris told the Houston Chronicle, "Things still go the police ... it's just a question of what route it takes."
Wouldn't anything but a direct route raise at least a few eyebrows? The fact that DeRouselle was a student athlete only complicates matters. Would a non-student athlete who had broken the same laws have been treated with the same kid gloves?
Whether or not Hess' dismissal is only a case of miscommunication, the
fact remains that DeRouselle's case was kept out of the hands of UHPD.
If justice was not stopped, it was at the very least stalled.