The prosecutor that charged the University of Cincinnati police officer that shot dead from point-blank range a driver during a routine check at a traffic stop harshly criticized the habit of some universities of adding police officers to their staff and arm them. The Ohio prosecutor concluded that colleges should not get involved in law enforcement business.
But the Cincinnati shooting made other people wonder whether campus police departments were a good and safe thing since many times those police officers act like they are working for the city police department and tend to forget that they are bound to stay within the school’s boundaries.
The recent police shooting happened two weeks ago about half a mile from the university. Back then, officer Ray Tensing (pictured), who worked for the University of Cincinnati, pulled over a car to see why it lacked a license plate. But when the driver, who was not studying at UC, declined to step out of the vehicle, the officer shot him once in the head.
The UC police officer pleaded not guilty and said he had to use force because he feared for his own life.
But such incidents may reoccur in other college campuses because universities arm their campus police officers for students’ safety. For instance, University of Rhode Island did the same move earlier this year because a couple of years ago students panicked in a lecture hall when somebody boasted that he had a gun.
Nevertheless, the college union was against the measure and recently added that what happened in Ohio may occur on their campus as well.
“I could very easily imagine someone getting pulled over, someone mouthing off and boom. It doesn’t surprise me, and it does sicken me,”
a member of the University of Rhode Island’s union recently said.
But college police departments now have a half of century long history. It all started in the 1960s, when students often clashed with the local police during protests. The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators said that campus police departments are more flexible than municipal police departments because officers can easily adjust the “clientele” they serve.
As of 2012, about 14,000 full time sworn police officers were working for universities, which is a ten percent increase since seven years ago. About 75 percent of college campuses provided guns to their officers, while 80 percent of campus police officers were allowed to go outside the campus and even take into custody suspects.
Image Source: Think Progress