Unwanted Intruder in N.J. Classroom: Local Sheriff

February 23, 2010

A local sheriff unhappy about having been used as an example of a double dipping employee charged into a classroom at Mercer County Community College and forced the offending professor to apologize, the Times of Trenton reported. Its account, and that of The College Voice, Mercer's student newspaper, said that Sheriff Kevin C. Larkin had been told via a student's text message that Michael Glass, a political science professor, had cited the fact that Larkin receives a police pension on top of his current salary as sheriff as evidence of the double dipping that contributes to New Jersey's $2 billion budget gap. (The class discussion reportedly also discussed the fact that Larkin was divorced and had hefty alimony payments.) Larkin reportedly tried to call Glass and, unable to reach him, came to the campus, where he reportedly spoke to him for several minutes in the hallway outside his classroom, before Glass returned and, with the sheriff by his side, apologized for "making disparaging comments" about him. The college's president, Patricia C. Donohue, issued a statement saying that "we do not think it is appropriate for any visitor to interrupt a class" and that "we plan to follow up with the individual about what our visitor policy is." Robin Schore, dean of Mercer's liberal arts division, was more forceful, telling the student newspaper that such an incident "has a chilling effect on free speech.... The idea of having a police presence challenging a professor and taking him out of class is something seen in a police state. It's outrageous."

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