By Lauren Lavelle
A Rider Public Safety officer was arrested on Sept. 21 for possession of child pornography and soliciting nude photos of an underage male online, said Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina.
According to Coffina, an investigation into Alan J. Berman’s online activity began earlier this year after a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Investigators believed Berman had been posing as a teenage girl online to obtain nude photos and videos of a teenage boy.
Berman, 58, was arrested and charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of a child after police conducted a search of his home and seized his digital devices, said Coffina.
In a university-wide email, President Gregory G. Dell’Omo addressed the arrest.
“This is a serious matter, and I want to assure our community that it is being treated as such,” Dell’Omo said in the email. “Once we learned of the charges, we took steps to safeguard the members of our community. Mr. Berman was placed on administrative leave and was notified that he is not allowed on either campus for any reason for the time being.”
Dell’Omo also mentioned the standard background check performed on new Public Safety officers.
“Mr. Berman has been employed by the University for about a year,” he said. “He completed a satisfactory background check administered by a third party as a contingency of his employment, as all Public Safety employees must do as a condition of their employment at Rider.”
The Rider News reached out to Public Safety for comment and they referred all inquiries to Kristine Brown, Assistant Vice President for University Marketing and Communications.
Members of Rider’s student community were surprised by the sudden arrest, especially the University’s community advisors (CAs), who worked closely with Berman.
“He always seemed positive and kind,” said Lena Nguyen, a CA and junior elementary education major. “I’m shocked to hear this and it makes me nervous that he was a Public Safety officer here.”
Juli Ezzo, a CA and junior secondary education major, agreed with Nguyen and said the incident made her question her time working with Berman.
“I have handled a few incidents with this officer and he was always on our side. He was a ‘no nonsense’ type of guy,” Ezzo said. “Of course, I’m shocked that someone I trusted professionally has done such repulsive things. It makes me think back to to incidents I handled with him and wonder what was actually going through his head.”