Sunday, November 3, 2013

How do campus police officers have jurisdiction?

In 1894, Yale created the first university police (n.b. the link has photos!). Two New Haven police officers agreed to take exclusive assignment to the Yale campus after some town and gown skirmishes, including a scuffle over rumors that the medical school was exhuming bodies from graves to use as cadavers. (!)

Image courtesy 27665395@N05

Nowadays, campus police (generally at bigger schools) get their authority from state legislatures. Most states have state laws that give university police concurrent jurisdiction with other law enforcement. Some campus police departments have mutual aid agreements with nearby law enforcement agencies in case of an emergency. And the presence of campus police does not necessarily mean that municipal police are divested of jurisdiction on campus, even if campus police have primary jurisdiction. Private security guards (generally hired at smaller schools) cannot make arrests, but can be licensed to carry weapons.

For more:
  • International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators 
  • Office of Justice Programs - Bureau of Justice Statistics - Campus Law Enforcement
  • Daniel Engber, Slate, Are Campus Police Like Regular Cops? (Nov. 7, 2011) (in wake of Penn State Sandusky charges), largely similar to Daniel Engber, Slate, What Can Campus Cops Do? (Apr. 16, 2007) (in wake of Virginia Tech Shootings). 
  • Harvard University Police Department - Frequently Asked Questions
  • Yale University Public Safety, History of the YPD (quoting Bill Wiser: "In 1894, Jim Donnelly and I were assigned by the chief of the New Haven police to duty the Yale campus. No policeman before this time had ventured on these sacred grounds, and the campus had come to be considered a place of refuge for students fleeing from the wrath of the city police . . . . The general belief on the force was that the Yale boys would never permit two policemen to live on campus.")
  • Barry T. Meek, Associate General Counsel, University of Virginia, The Virginia Court of Appeals Clarifies Jurisdiction of Campus Police Officers Acting under a Concurrent Jurisdiction Order with an Adjoining Locality, Virginia Police Legal Bulletin, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Sept. 2007) (posted on Radford University website) (posted on
  • Virginia Code Sections 23.232 through 23.236; see also Hall v. Commonwealth, 12 Va. App. 559 (1990) (campus police have jurisdiction in areas "immediately adjacent" to campus, and a parking lot across the street doesn't count); Commonwealth v. Borek, 68 Va. Cir. 323, 2005 WL 1862335 (2005) (campus police can't arrest someone driving drunk around Charlottesville, VA).
  • University of Oregon Police Department - Current Statutory and Municipal Authority (citing Oregon Revised Statutes 352.383; 352.385 (free from; Eugene Municipal Code 4.035; 4.906 (Eugene Municipal Code - Chapter 4 - downloads PDF from
  • California: 
    • University of California Police - Cal. Pen. Code 830.2(b) (UCPD's primary duty is to enforce the law within the area specified in Cal. Ed. Code 92600); Cal. Ed. Code 92600 (UCPD officers have jurisdiction on University of California campuses, within a one-mile radius of the campus, and in and around property owned by the UC Regents).
    • California State University Police - Cal. Pen. Code 830.2(c) (CSUPD's primary duty is to enforce the law within the area specified in Cal. Ed. Code 89560); Cal. Ed. Code 89560 (UCPD officers have jurisdiction on California State University campuses, within a one-mile radius of the campus, and in and around property owned by--or on behalf of--the California State University).
  • Colorado:
    • Colorado Revised Statutes 16-2.5-148: Colorado state higher education police officer ("A Colorado state higher education police officer employed by a state institution of higher education pursuant to article 7.5 of title 24, C.R.S., is a peace officer whose authority shall include the enforcement of all laws of the state of Colorado and who shall be certified by the P.O.S.T. board."); Colorado Revised Statutes 24-7.5-101 through 25-6.5-106: Colorado Higher Education Police Officers; see especially Colorado Revised Statutes 24-7.5-103: Powers Conferred ("State higher education police officers . . . when operating on property owned or leased by the state institution of higher education, are granted all the powers conferred by law upon peace officers to carry weapons and make arrests. . . . When not on property owned or leased by the state institution of higher education, state higher education police officers shall not have any greater authority than that conferred upon peace officers by section 16-3-110, C.R.S."); Colorado Revised Statutes 16-3-110(b)(2) ("A peace officer shall have the authority to act in any situation in which a felony or misdemeanor has been or is being committed in such officer's presence, and such authority shall exist regardless of whether such officer is in the jurisdiction of the law enforcement agency that employs such officer or in some other jurisdiction within the state of Colorado or whether such officer was acting within the scope of such officer's duties when he or she observed the commission of the crime, when such officer has been authorized by such agency to so act. The local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction shall be immediately notified of the arrest and any person arrested shall be released to the custody of the local law enforcement agency."). Colorado Revised Statutes available free to the public on LexisNexis if you click a disclaimer, then search using the following form: C.R.S. 16-2.5-148.

Thanks to S for this question!

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