False fire alarms in residence halls spark police response

Fire alarms were set off in numerous residence halls beginning Oct. 5 in Ontario Hall and continuing well into November most frequently in Niagara Hall. Other residence halls impacted were Monroe Hall, Suffolk Hall and Onondaga Hall. According to interim Chief of University Police Thomas Kilcullen, there have been a number of pull boxes––falsely reporting fires–– on South Side in addition to two fire alarms going off due to popcorn being left in unattended microwaves.

“We couldn’t tell if that was malicious or if it was by accident,” Kilcullen said. “If you hit five minutes and you’re not standing there watching it––it could be 50 [minutes] instead of five minutes. That wasn’t the case in this situation.”

Although the microwave incidents are not being looked at as malicious incidents, Kilcullen noted that UPD is currently in an active investigation regarding the numerous falsely pulled fire alarms, even calling in the Livingston County Sheriff’s office for assistance in forensic and technical evidence processing.

According to Kilcullen, numerous responses were enacted in an effort to find the culprit or culprits, who have created 10 incidents since October.

“At the point of activation, we did neighborhood patrols or ‘knock and talks’ where after the activation occurred, we had officers just go room to room attempting to gain additional information with regard to the alarm activation,” he said.

As the instances continued to occur, the police stepped up their tactics, stressing the importance of the idea that “if you see something, say something.” To further send this message, UPD is offering a monetary reward of $250.

Residents of Niagara Hall have noticed these efforts to catch the culprit(s).

“I know that they have been trying to take action … really embodying the Geneseo ‘Stand Up’ policy and saying, ‘If you see something say something,’” resident assistant senior Lexi Athens said. “They’ve put posters around the building educating about civility and asking people not to pull the alarms. UPD has started an investigation into it, so they have a reward out if anyone finds who’s been doing it. Also, they did take the microwaves away from all of South Side.”

Should someone be apprehended for these crimes, the consequences will be severe.

“Based on if a connection were to be made, it would be criminal charges involved as well as administrative charges through the student code of conduct, which would also be applied in that situation as well,” Kilcullen said.

Niagara residents are eager for these instances to end.

“Personally, I just think it’s annoying and very inconsiderate to everyone who lives in the building and also to the UPD, to the fire department that has to come and it’s also gotten to a point where it’s just interrupting everyone’s sleep,” Athens said. “It’s getting close to finals, so it’s just stressing everyone out and it’s not OK. It’s really juvenile.”

“It sucks. I think they’re immature,” Niagara resident freshman Paul Culmone said. I don’t understand the comic relief in doing it more than once.”

With this in mind, Kilcullen stressed the importance of the community’s help.

“If anyone has any additional information, they are urged to contact the University Police Department at (585) 245-5651,” he said.