When Should Campus Police Intervene in an Incident?

BlueSentinel Group’s Stacy Ettel discusses the fine line campus police officers must walk.

Campus public safety officers often struggle with determining when it is and isn’t appropriate to get involved in an incident.

Campus Safety magazine spoke with Stacy Ettel, who is the program director for the BlueSentinel Group, on the difference between enforcing laws vs. enforcing rules. He also talks about the fine line campus police officers must walk in determining when they should and should not intervene in a situation.

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3 responses to “When Should Campus Police Intervene in an Incident?”

  1. Joe says:

    This is a difficult area. But LEO’s deal with it all the time. They should know the law so that they can enforce it. The example of smoking was offered and is a good one. But the question is simple; is there a smoking ordinance which LE can and should enforce or not? The officer and administration need to know this and LEO’s should not be asked or expected to enforce things that are not against the law. By the same token the LEO should refuse to address rule violations which are not against the law. The problem arises as a result of ignorance on the part of either LEO’s or administrators, or even both. SRO’s, if they are not sworn officers, can be expected to enforce behavior rules as an extension of school administration. From personal experience I’d suggest that police officers do not belong in schools unless a crime has been committed. And the other side of the coin is that police should be used whenever a crime has been committed. The school is not equipped to deal with enforcing the law and should not do so. This issue is often blurred in cases of physical or sexual abuse. If the action, occurring outside of a school would be a crime, then it should be treated as a crime if committed inside a school, and dealt with by law enforcement not by school administrators or student courts which are used to enforcing rules, not laws.

  2. Jason says:

    I agree with what was said in the video. In response to @Joe’s comment, I agree with you on everything until you brought up the physical and sexual abuse. The reason why the lines are “blurred” as you put it is that there are actually overriding federal laws, such as Title IX, VAWA, Campus SAVE act, Jeanne Clery act that all put requirements on the schools to do certain things in these types of situations. In fact the U.S. Dept. of Education is likely moving further towards requiring the schools to hold extra-judicial courts in these cases to a level increasing similar to criminal courts which will put schools in a increasingly difficult position . Thus these incidents which involve potentially criminal actions must also be acted upon by the schools in this manner. Schools are required already to have trained investigators, coordinators, advocates, and a trained, policy authorized and regulated adjudication process. In these cases, it is not that the schools want to take over for or bypass the LEOs, DAs, and/or Courts, rather it is the requirement that they function in this way. This is not to mention that the burden does not end if a victim doesn’t want to cooperate, as it does in criminal process for many states. Instead the schools must still come to a conclusion and finding to the best of a reasonable person’s ability of what occurred.

    This combined with an era of continued strain on law enforcement budgets will likely lead to more schools, especially at the Private College/University level, being put into an increasing situation of policing the minor law infractions rather then only policy and rule enforcement with non-sworn Campus Safety Officers. Thus the blurring of responsibilities is easy to do, however as was pointed out in this video, must be trained, reasoned, and navigated in ways to protect everyone involved

  3. Martha Edwards says:

    As Vice Chancellor HR of a mid sized cc in OH, we faced many challenges w regard to the Clery Act. Mist recently a staff member miss used his authority in harassing A female student who rejected his advances by using his friendship with a public safety officer to harass this student. The student eventually filed suit after the incident report was altered by the public safety officer. The compliance officer assisted in the cover up by manipulating the incident report requested by the students attorney under FOIA. We avoided a hefty Clery Act violation/penalty along with the bad press that would come of it by acetylene the grievance with the offended student. In our case the six-figure settlement was The best alternative given the fines we faced in legal fees the college would have faced defending itself.

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