College police expand reach

Dec 18, 2013 by

WASHINGTON (AP) — The police officers who patrol America’s colleges are empowered these days to do far more than respond to campus emergencies.

Campus police around the country are increasingly expanding their jurisdiction beyond the school and into the surrounding neighborhoods, blurring a town-gown divide that colleges say is arbitrary when it comes to crime. Proponents say the arrangement allows schools to keep closer tabs on students who misbehave off-campus – making it easier to refer them for disciplinary proceedings, if necessary – and gives university officers greater flexibility to investigate campus crimes committed by community members. It can also ease the workload of resource-strapped municipal police departments.

“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,” said Jeff Corcoran, interim chief of the University of Cincinnati police force, where officers patrol areas near the school. “We’re getting pushed to ignore those imaginary lines on the map and be more proactive in that area.”

Still, a proposed expansion of authority has stirred concerns in Washington, D.C., where residents say university police don’t have the same level of training or transparency requirements as the city police. Campus police officers in the city have arrest powers on campus but participate in a separate, shorter training academy. And because private colleges generally aren’t compelled by public records law to release the same information as public institutions and government agencies, some are concerned about a lack of accountability to the city and its residents.

via News from The Associated Press.

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