To most college students, the sight of a campus police officer does not inspire the same fear as a police officer. Many students doubt the power of campus police. However, they may have more power than you think. Find out what the campus authorities can and can’t do.

What authority does campus police actually have?

Answering this question is not an easy one. Instead of being a clear answer, the answer depends on the school that you attend. On some college campuses, the campus security is an actual police department. As such, the police can perform the same duties that a police officer can do. For example, they can arrest individuals, give citations, and do any other police duties.

On such campuses, the campus authorities either work as individual police departments or they work together with law enforcement. In either case, the officers go through police training. Usually, that training is at least six months long. The only difference between campus police and traditional police is that the campus officers usually only stay on the campus. Although they could help the local police with investigations, this is a rarity.

Campuses with no police department

If your campus does not have a police department or work with one, then the security guards have limitations. They can’t do the same duties that typical police officers do. For example, they cannot arrest you or give you a citation. When the campus police are not police officers, they can’t do much about drinking on your campus. If they see you drunk driving, they can’t arrest you or give you a ticket. They can call the local police, but it may be too late.

Although your campus officers might carry firearms, most are more like security guards than police. Whether or not they carry firearms depends on your campus’ policies and local gun laws.

If your campus permits their officers to use guns, they still have limited duties. They cannot use the guns to make arrests. However, they can use them to shoot an active shooter or to stop an act of terrorism.

Even if your campus officers don’t have guns, they do know how to protect you. Most colleges require their officers to go through defensive training. With or without a gun, they know how to protect you.

Rhode Island Campus Police

In the state of Rhode Island, campus police are usually equivalent to police officers. As a result, they can do everything that police officers can do. Before the officers can work on the campus, they must undergo extensive training. They train at the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy and need to pass all their tests. Then, they can work on the campus.

It all started in 2011. In that year, Gov. Lincoln Chafee granted the campus officers at Brown University, Rhode Island College, the University of Rhode Island, and The Rhode Island School of Design the title of peace officers. With that title and the appropriate training, campus officers do everything that police officers can do. When they see someone committing a crime on their campus, they can arrest the perpetrator. They can search, arrest, and detain any suspects.

What it means for you

If you go to a college that allows campus police to work as peace officers, then there are a few implications. For one, it means that you need to be cautious. Drinking infractions on campus can have some serious penalties. While you could get away with drinking infractions on some campuses, Rhode Island is strict. As police officers, campus security can arrest you for underage drinking or drinking and driving. You need to be very careful about drinking on campus, or you could find yourself facing charges.

A campus officer could also arrest you for being too drunk. With the amount of campus parties that get out of hand, this could mean trouble. An officer could arrest you for disorderly conduct. As a result, you could find yourself under arrest and in court.

Although it might seem as if all the consequences of having peace officers on campus are negative, there is a silver lining. Their presence does improve the safety of the campus. If there is a serious crime on campus, the campus officers have the training to handle it. They can make the quality of life better for students. Additionally, they can also help local police when there is an on-campus crime. This cooperation makes it more likely that there will be justice for crimes.

With officers on the lookout for on-campus crimes, you need to be cautious. If you’re not, then you might find yourself in need of an RI DUI lawyer. Your charges could have serious penalties. It’s important that you contact a lawyer to defend you. With our help, you might be able to fight the charges.