In March, the Washington, D.C. City Council will consider the Special Police Office Enhanced Security Amendment Act of 2015. While part of this bill will increase training for "special polices officers" (campus police are considered among these in D.C.), it will also allow campus police forces to have jurisdiction off-campus. We support the increased training, but strongly oppose the increased jurisdiction, for the following reasons:
1) There is no reliable way to determine whether or not an off-campus individual is a college student. Campus police forces may stop individuals or enter their houses just because said individuals fit the profile of students. This not only affects students, but young professionals, high school students, and other residents.
2) Campus officers do not receive the same level of training as Metro Police Department officers, and therefore should not have public jurisdiction. There are serious legal issues when policing in a public jurisdiction, for which only MPD officers are adequately trained. Furthermore, private police forces will be given the ability to enforce regulations of private institutions outside of that institution’s property, even when the regulated behavior is legal under DC law.
3) This legislation does not address concerns regarding reporting or transparency. “Public safety plans” are not adequately defined and the legislation places no limitation on what can be included in this plan, presenting the risk that special police forces assume significant powers on public property. Additionally, since campus police forces are privately employed, there is no standardized reporting or complaint system for residents of D.C., reducing police accountability.
Read the entire piece of legislation HERE.
Read a report on the legislation by the American University Student Government HERE.