College Police Spreading Off-Campus

Sunday, December 22, 2013
graphic: St. Lawrence University)

Established to provide security on campus, many university police forces are expanding their jurisdictions beyond school grounds and into surrounding neighborhoods.

 

Campus police and their supporters say the broadening of patrols increases public safety for students and local residents. It also helps city police by easing their workload in areas close to colleges.

 

Jeff Corcoran, interim chief of the University of Cincinnati police force, told the Associated Press it’s now expected among both students and parents that campus cops will take care of the vicinity around higher education institutions.

 

“It used to be we were responsible for the campus. Now there’s an expectation, I think, especially with parents, but to a large extent among students, that we're also responsible for these areas off campus,” Corcoran said. “We're getting pushed to ignore those imaginary lines on the map and be more proactive in that area.”

 

This expansion does not sit well with everyone. Some residents note that campus police officers don’t undergo the same amount of training as regular police, and yet, they’re patrolling city streets.

 

Furthermore, private schools aren’t required under public records laws to release the same information as public institutions, which means a lack of accountability for certain campus police.

 

“If one of their policemen acted inappropriately, there would be hardly any recourse. We'd have no information, no follow-up,” Ken Durham, a longtime resident of Foggy Bottom, the neighborhood that encompasses George Washington University, which is considering broadening its police authority, said.

Marina Streznewski, president of the Foggy Bottom Association, echoed this concern: “Expanding the police powers of a university police force without some kind of clear and transparent mechanism is a really bad idea.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

College Police Forces Increasingly Expand Reach (by Eric Tucker, Associated Press)

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