City, University Police Partnerships Enhance Security
by Samuel Wright
In light of events at Virginia Tech, cities are re-examining their police and security partnerships with universities. The following are examples of collaboration from the National League of Cities’ (NLC) City Practices database.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
In Ann Arbor, University of Michigan and city police collaborate for area protection as part of a mutual aid agreement. For example, university police support the city police when dealing with public disturbances or coordinating crowd control. In more serious crimes, the university and city police departments collaborate during crime scene investigations or city patrols.
University and city police also coordinate resources and staff to address each force’s needs. For example, the university’s special canine unit is used by city police to detect explosive devices or track suspects and city police assist the university at large public events such as football games. Coordination among police forces allows duties to be carried out effectively and fosters cohesion among police forces.
Open communication is also a large part of collaboration and coordination. City police are active participants in university police training programs and meetings. During these meetings, crime notices and concerns of university students are addressed. Information is exchanged regularly via e-mail and in-person meetings.
Similar cooperation exists in smaller cities as well. The city of Wilson, N.C., and Barton College have a mutually beneficial agreement on policing. The college pays for the cost of four police officers and five police staff employees. In return, the city provides 24-7 police patrols on and around campus property. In addition, police also provide special security services such as student escorts and unlocking/locking doors as well as responding to calls from on-campus “call boxes.”
The city police department also oversees an on-campus district office that houses campus surveillance cameras. The district office enables city police to more fully engage with students and provide community-centered services specific to the needs of the students. City police notify students about security issues via e-mail updates and crime awareness announcements. They also distribute a newsletter throughout the college that discusses police activities and services for students.
Lake George, N.Y.
In Lake George, N.Y., the police department runs a Peace Officer Program that trains students from Adirondack Community College to act as law enforcement in the community. Students in the program — usually around 10 each year — are taught by professors on campus about village laws and introduced to local business leaders and residents.
Students also take an active role in law enforcement. This means that students are in some case first responders in critical situations and are trained to handle the situation in accordance with strict training guidelines. The sheriff also utilizes their help in responding to emergency calls and the students are authorized to make arrests.
Throughout the country, cities are taking active steps to better integrate city police with university and college police. These practices highlight the various ways in which cities can initiate programs and sustain their success while encouraging participation from many groups as well as more fully addressing safety issues in cities. Collaboration and coordination with university and college police departments can be seen not only as a model for cities and their police departments but as essential for a comprehensive safety program.
Details: For more information on city police partnerships with universities or other security issues facing cities, please visit City Practices.
Source: National League of Cities.