University of New Mexico police officers are hoping to get a better handle on the growing problem of non-students threatening people on campus by collaborating with prosecutors.
The issue was highlighted this week after campus police had another run in with a man who’s been banned from UNM, but keeps coming back.
On Wednesday, UNM Police sent an alert to students and staff about a man named Javante Commander.
In the security alert, UNM Police said Commander was accused of groping a female student inside the Student Union Building. The student chose not to press charges, but UNM police opted to alert students anyway.
Commander is well known to UNM Police. According to court documents, Police say Commander was banned from UNM in 2017 for trespassing inside the Sara Raynolds Building on campus. He trespassed again in 2018 after police say they found Commander sleeping inside the West Bandelier Hall. In a criminal complaint, police accused of Commander of refusing to leave.
Some students say they recognize how UNM’s open campus leaves it accessible to not only students, but troublemakers.
“We’re near Central (Avenue) and there’s a lot of travel going on,” said Marco Wiesse, a UNM sophomore. “I don’t encounter a lot of bad stuff but it does happen sometimes.”
Even non-students, like high school senior Nick Alexander of Albuquerque, says it’s easy to just “pass through” campus.
“There’s a million ways to get on,” said Alexander.
Increasingly, UNM Police say they’re dealing with the problem. In January, a man with a BB gun was accused of pointing the weapon at students. In February 2017, a UNM graduate student was shot to death on the edge of campus near Central and Stanford.
“I think safety on campus is a huge deal,” said Alexander.
Next Friday, the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office is planning to meet with UNM Police to talk more about the increasing problem of people unaffiliated with the campus or university threatening students and staff on campus.
Some say the help is greatly needed. Alexander points to personal experiences he’s had while walking on campus for events at Popejoy Hall.
“It’s late at night and you’re walking around and there’s some people that are staring at you who are sleeping on the sidewalk back there sometimes and yeah, it can be scary sometimes,” said Alexander.
UNM Police say they also hope to specifically address the issues with Commander during the Friday meeting.
Court records show Commander was also accused of fighting with security guards at the downtown bus station and damaging the door of a Nob Hill church last year. Court records show both of those cases were dropped.