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Transfering from Campus to City Policing

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  • Transfering from Campus to City Policing

    I recently just got hired onto a brand new city department after working for university police for roughly three years. I've been told that it's going to be drastically different. I do work at a fairly large university department (roughly 90 sworn) and have experienced a lot more than an average officer, although I have not had to deal with domestics as much. I am very excited about the transition and my start date can not get here soon enough. I was just wondering if anybody out there has any advice that I should be aware of?

  • #2
    I have seen numerous campus police officers successfully transition from campus LE to municipal work. A good officer is a good officer; you just need to learn your new environment.

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    • #3
      I started out at a multi-campus community college in 2005, where we only had 25 sworn. I transferred to a town department in 2008, which has 100 sworn. Although it wasn't as huge of a jump as going to a municipality with 1,000 officers, it was still a signifigant transition from "campus policing" to "real policing"...not intending to offend with that use of words, but we've both been there, and their IS a difference. Although I did have freedom at the college to go off campus and get into some good stuff or help out the city cops, the majority of my time was unlocking doors, locking doors, responding to alarm calls where instructors didn't bother to turn off the alarm in the room, lost / found property, fingerprinting students, etc. My biggest fear in going to a city department was not knowing how to handle DV's or child custody situations -- you rarely, if ever, see those on a college campus. So I read up on the stuff I had from the academy pertaining to those topics, and when I started at my new department, I made sure to tell my FTO that I had concerns about those areas, since I had never dealt with them, and asked for his guidance. There were other little differences, mostly administrative or procedural, between the two departments. For example, at the college we were sort of micromanaged.....we had to account for everything we did during the shift and write it down on a log. Also, when asking for a registration check on a license plate, we had to state where we were at the time......the officers had a habit of saying "rolling 28 check" if you were moving. Well when I got to the town, I did that one time and my FTO looks at me and asked "what the hell was that, a "rolling" 28!?".

      As joe said above, a good officer is a good officer. The little administrative things might change, but its the fundamentals that stay the same. Good officer safety, good investigative skills, good report writing. You'll pick up the other stuff as you go.
      Last edited by GixxerSteve; 07-05-2013, 03:13 AM.
      "These aren't my pants"

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      • #4
        The biggest difference I observed was the mentality of the command staff. At the University, less was more. Any arrest had to have a supervisor's approval and the captain had to be notified. Warrant Arrest, PI Arrest at 0200 hrs., the captain was woken up. At the municipality, you need to be putting people in jail or you'll be having a meeting with your supervisor. Captain only gets woken on major incidents. I don't just think its campus policing but its the difference between working at a special purpose police dept and a municipal agency.
        Strong Body, Sharp Mind And Good Tactics!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Rush817 View Post
          The biggest difference I observed was the mentality of the command staff. At the University, less was more. Any arrest had to have a supervisor's approval and the captain had to be notified. Warrant Arrest, PI Arrest at 0200 hrs., the captain was woken up. At the municipality, you need to be putting people in jail or you'll be having a meeting with your supervisor. Captain only gets woken on major incidents. I don't just think its campus policing but its the difference between working at a special purpose police dept and a municipal agency.
          Yep, I saw that too, if not to a lesser degree. Working for the college, any incident beyond a routine criminal investigation required involving the commander or the chief. I think part of the reason was that our department was so small, that our chain of command jumped from sergeants to one commander and then one chief. Of course, in true spirit of an educational institution, the police department was overseen by an assistant vice chancellor, who was then overseen by the chancellor (comparable to a university president). So that meant that most major decisions in the police department were made by someone other than a police professional. And for any serious incident, the chancellor was involved. We had an excited delerium death one time, and the chancellor showed up and started telling the officers what to do.......including to tell a black officer to go get him a cup of Starbucks coffee. Not kidding. Needless to say, I was happy to go to a municipality where the police were allowed to do their job with less micromanagement.
          Last edited by GixxerSteve; 07-05-2013, 03:12 AM.
          "These aren't my pants"

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          • #6
            We usually have a lot of arrests for a university police department because were in a major city so it's just business as usual. The captain only gets woken up unless there's an armed robbery or something serious that happened near the campus. Although there is a lot of micromanaging that goes on in the department, so that's one thing i'll be happy to leave behind.

            In regards to the DV situations and child custody fights, I couldn't agree more with you. I've had other officers, who have worked for bigger counties, come up and tell me to read up on the process so you're not completely lost when you go on your first call. I've had to deal with a handful of domestics but rarely, if ever, any child custody situations. I know I have a good head on my shoulders so hopefully I won't look like a complete idiot. Thanks for the advice all!

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            • #7
              I would imagine you will deal with more civil matters, trespassings, and real crimes than you would as a campus cop. Ever been on a shooting, stabbing, child abuse, home invasion?

              You will lose the benefit of being able to jam someone up on a university policy violation, but as long as you can talk to people, it should be similar.


              PS- gixxersteve-i work in 3000+ dept and a 'rolling 28' is common here- perhaps your FTO had no idea what it was. LOL

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              • #8
                Originally posted by JI603 View Post
                I would imagine you will deal with more civil matters, trespassings, and real crimes than you would as a campus cop. Ever been on a shooting, stabbing, child abuse, home invasion?

                PS- gixxersteve-i work in 3000+ dept and a 'rolling 28' is common here- perhaps your FTO had no idea what it was. LOL
                Yeah, that's true -- I don't think I dealt with very many civil matters at the college, and certainly no tenant/landlord disputes, business/customer disputes, etc. Those are pretty easy to navigate. Its the child custody disputes that require a little more tact and patience, as its basically two grown adults acting like children.

                JI603, I guess certain departments use that term and others don't. No one at my current department does. Of course, at the college we didn't have MDCs, and at this department we do, so no one really does any 28's over the radio. Well, except for the few old beasts who don't know how to use a computer.
                "These aren't my pants"

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