Public v. Private College Peace Officers—What’s the Difference?

In California, private college public safety officers aren’t designated as peace officers, which some say hinder them in their responses to active shooters and sexual assault.

According to University of Southern California (USC) Department of Public Safety Chief John Thomas and Deputy Chief Dave Carlisle, there is a big difference between what peace officers at California’s public colleges and universities are legally able to do versus what public safety officers can do at private institutions of higher education.

They say these differences prevent private institutions from being able to provide the kind of protection that students, faculty and staff enjoy at University of California and California State campuses.

In this video, Thomas and Carlisle explain the challenges peace officers at California’s private institutions of higher education face, such as not being authorized to carry long guns so that they can more effectively respond to active shooters. They are also legally barred from having sexual assault victims make pre-contextual calls to suspects, which hampers campus public safety investigations and makes it more difficult for these departments to comply with Title IX and other California laws on campus sexual violence.

They also discuss AB 2361, which is legislation sponsored by California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago that is being considered by the California legislature to address these inequities.

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About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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