Campus police officers provide a number of services including event security, standard arrests and traffic enforcement. These officers are usually employees of the university but may hold the same powers as those of local law enforcement organizations. The process of becoming a campus police officer is often the same as that to become an ordinary officer, yet the campus officer must perform duties specific to the campus setting.
The Need for Campus Security
It is the duty of sworn campus police officers to protect the campus and the people who live on it, work on it or visit it. Yale hired the first campus officers in 1894, but the modern presence of police officers at colleges didn’t take place until a post-World War II increase in university enrollment. Decades later, police departments became a common component at larger colleges and universities. Police departments located on campuses are designed to provide quicker service in place of incidents or emergencies. Larger universities are often greater in population than the surrounding communities, so without the campus departments the local law enforcement would have to double in size to serve the entire area. In the wake of more frequent school shootings, campus law enforcement agencies have adopted newer methods to heighten security including sending alerts to students’ mobile devices.
Duties of Campus Officers
As with regular police officers, campus officers are expected to prevent crime and investigate criminal activity. At times they may be required to work in conjunction with local law enforcement in order to secure school safety. Protecting such a dense population of young adults living on their own for the first time presents challenges that are unique to campus police. While campus police have a narrower jurisdiction, they often have the same training and qualifications as local officers and have cooperated closely with these agencies. These officers usually carry the same equipment as other organizations. Campus officers are able to carry weapons, make arrests and enforce local, state and federal laws. The duties of campus officers include:
- Enforcing laws and school regulations
- Monitoring the activity of outsiders
- Patrolling school grounds
- Maintaining peace during events
- Detaining or arresting those involved in criminal activity
- Monitoring traffic violations
How to Become a Campus Police Officer
Campus police officers are required to complete training at a police academy. Earning a degree in law enforcement and/or having experience as a police officer are preferred for those seeking employment in the field. The process to becoming an officer involves multiple steps, and each must be passed before progressing to the next. If an applicant does not provide a satisfactory performance during any step of the process he may be disqualified. The exact steps vary depending on the agency or school involved, but they typically use the same methods as local law enforcement departments. Candidates must submit to background investigations, polygraph testing, psychological evaluation, physical evaluation and drug screening. Once hired, officers must undergo rigorous physical and academic training which may last as long as six months.
Campus police officers ensure school safety at all times in addition to alerting school officials and students of any security threats. They work alongside local authorities or perform alone on campus. These officers must serve in the same ways as their local counterparts, but are expected to do so in manners unique to a campus environment.