Don’t Expand Jurisdiction for Campus Cops, Close Them Down

Back in 2015 the North Dakota Supreme found that campus police departments in our state were breaking the law by patrolling off campus. Our state’s highest court found, in Kroschel v. Levi, that the jurisdiction of campus cops is campus.

Despite this ruling, campus police departments continued to break the law and patrol off campus, something which resulted convictions being overturned by the courts.

Why are campus police departments so adamant about patrolling off campus? Probably because they don’t have enough to do on campus.

Anyway, the Legislature has taken up this issue, with campus law enforcement agencies pushing for lawmakers to allow them to expand their jurisdiction. SB2193, introduced by Senator Curt Kreun of Grand Forks, would allow campus police departments to enter into agreements with surrounding law enforcement agencies to patrol and make arrests.

The legislation got a committee hearing yesterday.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]…at a time when Governor Doug Burgum has demanded efficiency and reinvention in all areas of state government, why are we trying to expand the mission of redundant campus police departments?[/mks_pullquote]

As you can see from this report about the legislation, campus cops are arguing that the limited jurisdiction is a little silly. After all, why shouldn’t they be able to respond to crimes and help people off campus?

That’s a fair point, but we’re asking the wrong question. In a state where lawmakers are desperately trying to save money, at a time when Governor Doug Burgum has demanded efficiency and reinvention in all areas of state government, why are we trying to expand the mission of redundant campus police departments?

There is no question that the current jurisdictional limitations for campus police are a headache, but the answer is to eliminate the independent campus police departments altogether.

They’re duplicative, for one thing. Each campus department has its own budget and command structure and equipment inventory. Why not eliminate some of that waste and allow existing municipal and/or county law enforcement agencies serve campus needs? Something that would also solve the issues with jurisdiction?

Another problem is the conflict of interest inherent in a law enforcement department which works for the university itself. Given the controversies we’ve seen on campus over issues ranging from free speech to sexual assault, does it make sense to have law enforcement officers who answer to the school’s administrators?

I don’t think so.

Again, Governor Burgum has charged our state’s leaders to think differently about the way government delivers services. In this instance, a better way to deliver law enforcement services on campus would be to do away with unnecessary and problematic campus police departments.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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