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The Real Role of Police on College Campuses [The Atlantic]

Written on 1 October 2015, 08:15am under As Seen In

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Full-scale police departments are operating on college and university campuses. Empowered to patrol jurisdictions beyond school grounds – and armed with guns, Tasers and in some cases, military-grade equipment – campus police are blurring the lines between campus safety and local law enforcement. And similar to the growth of police in K-12 settings, campus police are generating concerns and complaints.

According to a recent Justice Department report on 2011-12 data, what’s been described as the most comprehensive survey of its kind, the vast majority of public colleges and universities—92 percent—have sworn and armed campus officers. Unsurprisingly, they’re much less prevalent at private colleges: Slightly over a third (38 percent) of them are equipped with their own law enforcement. Since the 2004-05 school year, the percentage of both public and private colleges nationwide using armed officers increased from 68 percent 75 percent.

Yet as the numbers of armed campus police have swelled, presumably in part as an effort to satisfy the Clery Act requirements, the Justice Department data reveals a string of contradictions. The report demonstrates that crime and the presence of law enforcement on campus have an inverse relationship: Increases to the numbers of officers on campuses are paralleled by declining rates of reported crimes at the schools. Yet even despite apparent reduction in crime, the numbers of campus officers have continued to expand—as have their responsibilities. Officers have increasingly gained the ability to arrest and patrol outside jurisdictions, and the growth to law-enforcement hires has outpaced that of student enrollment.

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(Photo: YouTube Screenshot / Occupy U.C. Berkeley Protesters Face Violent Confrontation With Campus Police)

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