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Police at CMU president's home go unexplained

| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 11:48 p.m.
A Carnegie Mellon University police officer is parked outside the Squirrel Hill home of the University's president on Wednesday, December 19th, 2012. Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review

Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh police won't say why they posted an around-the-clock police guard at the home of university President Jared Cohon for more than a week.

However, Tammy Mayle, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspector, said there is an investigation going on at CMU, and the agency's Pittsburgh office is assisting. The Postal Inspector's office deals with crimes committed via the mail.

On Wednesday morning, a CMU officer guarded the street in front of Cohon's home off campus in the quiet, upscale Squirrel Hill neighborhood, the flood lights on his cruiser turned on. He referred inquiries about his assignment to CMU Police Chief Thomas Ogden, saying “that's above my pay grade.”

Neighbors said the uniformed police officers in marked cars in front of the sprawling Northumberland Street estate CMU owns alternate between university police and city officers. The neighbors did not want to be quoted.

At the city's Zone 4 police station, three blocks from Cohon's home, an officer said he knew of no problems at the house. Another officer there referred inquiries to university police Lt. Gary Scheimer, who did not return a call.

Ogden, Cohon and city police spokeswoman Diane Richard also did not return repeated calls.

CMU Assistant Vice President for Media Relations Teresa Thomas said she knew of no issues at Cohon's home and speculated the officers may have been called to assist with parties at the mansion. Later, she said, “The university has no comment.”

Cohon, 65, assumed the helm at CMU in 1997. He said he will retire in June.

A search committee is vetting candidates for his replacement and is expected to issue an announcement in early 2013.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com.

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