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  • University Police

    Can anyone tell me what it's like to be a university police officer. Would it be worth it to start there for your first job and then move on?

    Thanks for your info.

  • #2
    I have never worked as a university officer however, I have frequently worked with them when our jurisdictions overlapped. The biggest problem they seem to have is dealing with a few educators and college administrators who believe they alone know best how the police should do their jobs. As such, this can create considerable interference.

    One of my friends was Chief of Police at a particular state university. He was constantly asked to have his officers turn a blind eye to certain things so the university could promote a more "enlightened" atmosphere. In one instance he was called into the Chancellor's office and asked not to enforce the drug laws on campus because the university wanted to encourage an atmosphere of "learning by experimentation" among the students. He got out of most of these weird requests by pointing out that they were asking him to engage in a conspiracy to obstruct justice and if ordered to do so, he would have to bring the matter to the attention of the district attorney's office. Of course, he was the last civil service chief of police at that school. Every chief that followed was a political appointee who served at the "pleasure" of the chancellor.

    In another instance my agency was asked to assist a different university police agency in handling a dignitary protection matter (they didn't have the staff or expertise). I went out, did a site survey and posted my officers at locations where, based on my agency's procedures, their presence was warranted. A short while later, a professor came along and decided he knew better where to assign the police and tried to redeploy one of my officers away from a sensitive area. Needless to say, my officer refused and the professor became enraged that he couldn't order him around. When I passed this info back to my counterpart in the university police he turned pale and was visibly upset. It seems at this school, professors were allowed to order campus police around. In addition, everyone on the campus police above the rank of sergeant was non-civil service and could be terminated without notice. My counterpart spent the rest of the night scrambling around to protect his job by finding the professor and making him understand the problem he had was with an outside agency and not the campus police.

    In addition, some colleges, fearing for the safety of their students (but not necessarily for that of their own campus police) insist that their officers work unarmed. This definitely doesn't mesh with my philosophy that for as long as crooks have guns, the police need to be armed as well.

    As a side note, a couple of years back I had to hire 150 part time civilians to work on a temporary summer project. Forgetting my past experiences with university police agencies, (and like an idiot) I turned to the local boards of education in my county and asked them to pass out job flyers to teachers going on summer break. I figured I would be getting educated people who, through having to deal with kids all the time, should have a considerable amount of maturity, patience and understanding. We got tons of applicants and hired a bunch of teachers. By the time summer was over my year round staff was ready to mutiny. It seems many of the teachers were more interested in telling my staff how the department should be run, rather than carrying out the duties we were paying them for. At one point, my personnel officer strongly implied she might kill me if I ever went out recruiting teachers again.

    BTW, if I have insulted any teachers or educators I apologize. I'm sure there are a lot of good folks out there. It's just that my contact with them has been really, really limited. I promise not to tell you how to teach your students if you promise not to tell me how to run my agency. <G>

    Many officers from outside agencies tend to look down at campus police because the atmosphere they must work under often makes it difficult for them to function professionally, or because their limited call load doesn't allow them to develop the same repetitive expertise and training as their counterparts in the local PDs. I would be more inclined to go with the local PD or SO than with a university agency.
    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


    • #3


      • #4
        I work for a Univeristy PD. I have never been asked, or otherwise, to "turn a blind eye". As far as call volume, we handle more calls than some of the smaller towns in the area.
        We have a great working relationship with the city PD and assist each other on calls almost every night.
        The pension is better than some smaller PD's. The work environment is great.
        It's a great job, just not for everyone.


        • #5
          Just my $.02, but I would never work for a university or college PD.

          Now, I've based that on my own perceptions and no actual information or facts

          From what I've seen, campus PD's come with a built-in citizenry that for the most part despises you. Also, their police work mostly consists of petty thefts, traffic stops, underage drinking and breaking up parties. Sounds boring. Also, their jurisdiction is very small. In fact, sounds just like small-town police work, but I wouldn't be a small-town cop either.

          No disrespect to any small-town or university cops, just not my cup of tea.

          I've also heard that if you want to transfer to another department, it's very difficult to do so from a college PD, even though in CA, University of California, California State University and Community College Police all have the same training as any other cops in the state. I've heard that a large(r) dept. may look down on a college cop because of the reasons listed above, but it's only heresay.

          I'd never thought about it before thread, but being in the presence of not only so many college kids, but academics who think they know better could get really tiring.
          *Not a cop*


          • #6
            I worked at a University for several years. Its different from other agencies. Faculty and staff will tell you that your here to enforce regulations on students, and have no authority over staff. Write them a cite to prove them wrong, and MY OWN CHIEF threw them out. Talk about strong support from your leadership?

            Relations with the neighbooring city sucked. They wouldn't even wave to you. But they sure liked using the school's gym for free!!!
            I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.

            Douglas MacArthur


            • #7
              I am a police officer with the Indiana University Police Derpartment. I have worked for a municple and county PD. We don't operate any diffrently than most other PD's our size.

              Our division (Bloomington campus) is staffed by about 65 officers. We also operate one of the state
              Last edited by Tennsix; 11-30-2004, 12:40 PM.


              • #8
                I have never been a university officer. However, my brother has for 11 years at a university of 10,000 students and I work hand-in-hand with another university department at a school with 40,000 students.

                First of all, the answer to your question depends a lot on what state you're in and, more importantly, what authority that state gives its university officers. Here, officers that are employed by the state university system are fully sworn law enforcement officers that must meet the same minimum requirements of any police officer in the state. As such, they have statewide jurisdiction for criminal offenses. However many states give university officers a sort of 'special' status -- and not special in a good way, but special as in a level of law enforcment below that of a 'regular' police officer.

                Additionally, you have to consider how the university is going to treat its officers. As evidenced above, different universities view their campus police differently. From what I've seen and heard, the state university police here aren't too tightly reined in by their school administrators. But I know of schools where stories like some of those above are the norm.

                Based upon my experience in this area, these are what I consider to be the pros and cons of university policing (in no particular order of importance):

                1. Pay
                As state employees, the university police make a decent wage. When my brother started back in the early 90s, he was making about 30% more than most of the cops in his county. In the years since, the pay for municipal and county cops has risen and there's less of a disparity. But it still pays pretty well.

                2. Training
                With the dramatically reduced workload in the summer months combined with decent training budgets, most of the university cops get plenty of training opportunities.

                3. Vacation
                Also because of the slower summers, it's not too hard for the university cops to get time off in the summer. Of course, the flip side will be seen listed under disadvantages.

                4. Transfer opportunities
                As state employees, state university cops can transfer to another state schools throughout the state without losing seniority. My brother has 11 years in and, if he chose to, could transfer to the big campus near me and pretty much have his pick of assignments.

                5. Co-eds
                How can you dislike a job where college girls are running around in bikinis come spring's first 70-degree day.

                1. Reputation
                Due to the type of policing they do, past experience or whatever, there are some people out there that don't respect campus police as 'real' cops. Defending your career choice and professionalism could get a little old.

                2. Administration
                Even though it's less of an issue here than perhaps in other areas, the university administration can be a hassle. For example, one university department has a canine that is trained in bomb detection, trailing, bite work...but not drug detection. I've been told that the administration wasn't entirely in favor of a dog that would find drugs on campus.

                3. Weapons
                Administrators at some schools seem to have conniptions when they think about weapons on campus -- even when the police have them. When my brother joined his department, they were unarmed. They had just been authorized to go armed and did so about 6 months after he started, or he would never have taken the job. They have rifles and shotguns...locked up back at the station. And Tasers? Yeah, right.

                4. Security work
                Any way you slice it, a portion of campus police work is going to entail rattling a lot of doors.

                That's my take on the gig. Take it for what it's worth.
                Caution and worry never accomplished anything.


                • #9
                  If it is the best offer available, in terms of pay, benefits, etc., then take the job. If it would help you continue your education and you want to do that, take the job. As far as seeking out a university job to start, fully planning to move on, that does not make alot of sense to me. If you had an opportunity with a department that you felt would likely be a career position, then take that job instead. If jobs are few and far between where you want to live, then of course you have to be less choosy. In short, chose the job based on pay and benefits. Almost any police officer experience will be a help if you do change jobs, whether it is small town, big city, etc. I would certainly apply with the department that you might want to switch to someday. You may just get lucky.

                  I know alot of people seem to start out their careers in campus law enforcement. I do not think it would have been for me when I started, but I would not mind it know. The problem is the pay for the university cops in my area is much lower.


                  • #10
                    4. Security work
                    Any way you slice it, a portion of campus police work is going to entail rattling a lot of doors.

                    That is not alwasy the case. Our dept. has a security section that is responsible for that sort of stuff. One problem that presents is that people sometimes think the security guards are university police and we are city police (city police changed uniforms & cars. They look like us now).

                    If it is the best offer available, in terms of pay, benefits, etc., then take the job. If it would help you continue your education and you want to do that, take the job.

                    I agree. For all of the negative aspects of university law enforcement I can find as many (several of the same) in city or county law enforcement. Having worked at a city and county PD I can readily present those comparisons. I left a county dept because the university PD was more professional afforded more opportunities. University policing has come a long way (as has police work in general) However, the public's concept of university policing hasn't. I would put my training and experience against any officer serving a community of comparable size.
                    Last edited by Tennsix; 11-30-2004, 06:32 PM.


                    • #11
                      5. Co-eds
                      How can you dislike a job where college girls are running around in bikinis come spring's first 70-degree day.

                      ...less than that if you know where to look.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tennsix
                        5. Co-eds
                        How can you dislike a job where college girls are running around in bikinis come spring's first 70-degree day.

                        ...less than that if you know where to look.
                        Less than a bikini or less than 70 degrees?

                        Also, was that you in the pic with JW?


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by richjorg
                          Less than a bikini or less than 70 degrees?

                          Also, was that you in the pic with JW?
                          I meant less than a bikini but less than 70 degrees could apply if they have had enough to drink. LOL Nothing like a female streaker on a cold winter's night. Someone could lose an eye, if they aren't careful.

                          Yeah, that is me in the photo.
                          Last edited by Tennsix; 12-02-2004, 04:56 PM.


                          • #14
                            University Police

                            I spent 22 years with the University of Michigan, I have a BS in Criminal Justice and a MS in Political Science...all paid for, books, tutition, etc, by the university. That's the up side. The down side is the radical political environment stimulated by the "blue state" faculty and extremly wealthy (politically and monetarily) students.

                            If the college has residential living, you'll get the same amount of calls for service as in any medium size jurisdiction. Domestics, drugs, assaults, rape, robbery, etc. etc. Friday and Saturday night's, it was on. You'll find the hiring standards a more stringent. Oral boards will beat you up.

                            Community Policing is the way of life on campus, if you are not people person, you will not survive.
                            Aim for Center Mass


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