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Campus Police

Unresolved Issues



Despite much campus opposition, the university administration imposed on us an armed campus police force that replaced unarmed security guards. It was a pretty hot issue, and in the end we lost.

This is a list of issues I devised in early 1995.

Campus Police Training and Policies

General Overview

This incident should lead to complete reevaluation of current police selection/ training/retraining methods, with full participation by the campus community.

Campus police should be required to attend training in civil liberties issues, conducted by civil-liberties oriented faculty with expertise in this area.

Training should include a discussion component. Police officers should interact in an open manner with faculty, staff and students who have themselves engaged in political protest and other first amendment activities of the kind that have historically led to arrests later found to be illegal or unwarranted.

Officers must be made aware of how the recent actions violate fundamental principles.

New officers should be selected with these principles in mind.

All police policy manuals, training procedures, and other guidelines should be public information and should be reviewed by the Police Review Committee.


Questions and Suggestions

What kind of training do police now get in campus-specific issues?

What are they told about the history of political activity at SSU?

What is the current training curriculum in First Amendment and related issues, e.g.:

  • free speech by members of the campus community
  • political protest common to campuses
  • reaction to those who resist illegal or authoritarian police demands

What are their instructions about explaining to a suspect the basis of an arrest?

What instructions are given about how to react to illegal or clearly unreasonable orders by their superiors or university administrators?

  • Police should be required to refuse illegal orders and to report them to the Police Review Committee or other non-police authorities.
  • We need an institutionalized mechanism to support officers who challenge illegal authority.
  • How can current police organizational structure leading to excessive obedience be modified?

Police Review Panel Chronology (4/97): failure to establish police complaint procedure
critique of Administration's unilaterally imposed complaint policy (4/24/97)
memo to faculty proposing a Senate resolution (4/28/97)
letter to editor about problems with campus police force (1/96)

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Page updated September 30, 2007