DO CAMPUS POLICE HAVE THE POWER TO ARREST ME?
By Jonathan Cook
The Majority of Colleges and Universities Employ Sworn Police Officers Stationed In Police Departments Located On Campus. Each state authorizes campus police to have essentially the same powers as local police (city or State)--they carry weapons, effectuate arrests on campus grounds and surrounding areas and are permitted to use force at their discretion.
To be sure, the scope of power and jurisdiction narrows and widens according to individual state's authorization laws and whether the College or University is public or private. States' authorization statues "identify whether they apply to both public and private universities, as in Georgia, or just public institutions, as in New York" and determine jurisdiction.
Campus Police Authority Limits
Most states limit campus police jurisdiction to the parameters of campus and "off-campus" facilities and property owned by the school including university sponsored student housing. For example, the University of Rhode Island campus police "investigate and prosecute crimes that occur on University property as well as traffic accidents and related violations. See URI Policy. Some states authorize "extended jurisdiction," which means that campus police can exercise their powers on campus, but also in surrounding areas (think local college bars and neighborhoods around campus). For example, at Harvard University, "HUPD officers are sworn special State Police officers with deputy sheriff powers; this gives them the authority to respond to any crime on campus and any 'breach of the peace' on the streets of Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston." See Harvard Policy.
At Salem State University, University Police has concurrent jurisdiction with municipal police throughout the City of Salem. See Salem State Policy. A few states even grant campus police what is called "full jurisdiction," which means campus police officers have statewide police powers.
The bottom line is that the vast majority of campus police have the power to arrest you on campus or in surrounding areas. According to the Department of Justice, 86% of campus police in the United States are authorized to make arrests outside of campus grounds.
Remember: although it is extremely important to hire an experienced Student Defense Attorney as early in Campus Disciplinary Proceedings as possible (as soon as an arrest is made or notice of charges is received, if not before), it is never too late. Whether a student has already been sanctioned and is in the appeals stage or even after an appeal has been denied, a lawyer with extensive experience representing and defending college students can offer invaluable help.
Jonathan Cook at New England Student Defense has represented over 150 students at Colleges and Universities nationwide from Yale University and Georgetown University to the University of Houston and Tulane University.
These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.