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Posted on September 26, 2016 in Crime

Differences Between Campus Police & City Police Officers

If you find yourself in trouble on the Arizona State University campus, the police you call will abide by slightly different regulations than city police officers. While the ASU Police Department and the City of Tempe P.D. have a lot in common, they are not the same. An ASU campus police officer has different priorities, legal authorities, and disciplinary options than city police officers. Understanding the differences between these two task forces can help you know your rights on and off campus in Arizona.

Police Department Priorities

In the 1960s and 1970s, many students organized protests and sit-ins on college campuses. Campuses did not have their own police forces back then, so city police stepped in. Unfortunately, this led to student brutalization and even deaths. After these events, colleges rethought their security practices and started campus police departments. Today, campus police units exist on almost every college campus in the country. These units focus more on student safety than law enforcement.

Campus police prioritize prevention above everything else. Since most college students are young adults, campus police have the opportunity to spread awareness of common legal issues and prevent crime before it occurs. Campus police can develop relationships with students, give presentations, and initiate crime prevention campaigns to help reduce the rate of crime, instead of sitting back and waiting for students to break the law. Campus police must communicate well with young adults and their parents. City of Tempe police do not need to meet this prerequisite.

Public universities can hire sworn city police officers that abide by specific state laws. In many states, these officers can detain students for up to 24 hours. In other states, they can only make an arrest during on-duty hours. At ASU, campus law enforcement has 87 sworn personnel. These officers provide jurisdictional law enforcement, security, and student safety services on campus. They are armed like city police officers and have full law enforcement powers, including the ability to make arrests.

Available Disciplinary Actions

When a student breaks the law on campus, ASU campus police officers have a greater variety of disciplinary options. That is not to say that students have more leeway when it comes to breaking the law. However, based on the circumstances of the crime, campus police officers can choose to either arrest the student or send the student to the Dean of Students. Instead of a role that is purely based on enforcing the law, campus police have a duty to help students make good decisions rather than simply locking them up.

If campus police catch students drinking underage, for example, they can refer them to the Dean instead of charging them with a crime. The Dean can then decide the punishment, which is often a mandatory safe drinking course or an essay. Campus police training advocates more sensitivity than traditional police training, including non-lethal forces and techniques to de-escalate a situation. Campus officers learn how to communicate with students and parents about issues rather than immediately make an arrest. City police officers, on the other hand, have to follow certain procedures when someone breaks the law.

While city and campus police officers are similar, it is important to realize that they are not one in the same. Getting in trouble on campus may not amount to the same legal repercussions and consequences as trouble with the city. While campus police prioritize prevention and student safety above all else, they can and do still make arrests when the circumstances warrant this action. College campus officers may carry firearms, pepper spray, and tasers. They deserve the same level of respect as city officers and have the authority to enforce the law as they see fit. Regardless of type of police officer in Arizona, it is important to talk to a college crimes lawyer in Phoenix if you have been accused of a crime. Craig Orent builds a strong defense case that can prevent criminal acts sticking to your record.