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ERIC Number: EJ972867
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0739-0394
Understanding the Law Enforcement Officer's Role in the Campus Environment
Rhyne, Amanda
Campus Law Enforcement Journal, v40 n2 p31, 33 Mar-Apr 2010
Campus police forces operate under a difficult mandate of competing and conflicting goals. Officers are charged with protecting institutions whose basic mission is to provide a peaceful, open campus setting that encourages freedom of movement and expression. Campuses are generally unguarded and open to the general public and their buildings, classrooms, and other spaces are often unlocked and accessible 24 hours a day. In this unique environment, campus law enforcement officers have to find a balance between the school's academic mission and their responsibilities as police officers. The tendency to emphasize the importance of supporting academic goals and the open campus environment may lead a department to yield to academic considerations during a potentially dangerous situation. On April 16, 2007, a Virginia Tech student, Seung Hui Cho, killed 32 students and faculty members in 2 separate incidents on campus. As the tragedy at Virginia Tech illustrated, the campus environment in general poses a number of obstacles to law enforcement prevention and protection efforts. Institutions of higher education typically discourage many active policing measures, such as security cameras, which can be seen as intrusions on university life. Additionally, campus police departments are often too small to effectively secure or lock down a campus against potential threats. In this difficult policing environment, there is a danger that campus police departments will yield to academic considerations when responding to emergency situations. Law enforcement and safety should be the first responsibility of the campus police department, and university emergency planning should reflect these priorities. The campus police department's mission statement can be an important tool in counteracting the tendency of campus police forces to defer to academic interests. Mission statements can help departments clarify their understanding of their own purpose, roles, and responsibilities. Additionally, mission statements can establish priorities which can impact how the department responds to emergency situations. At the time of the shootings, the Virginia Tech Police Department (VTPD) mission statement emphasized academics, which contributed to the perception within the university that VTPD was not a primary element of Virginia Tech's incident response management team. The Review Panel concluded that the mission statement should reflect the primacy of VTPD's law enforcement function, and it has since been revised. (Contains 3 notes.)
International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. 342 North Main Street, West Hartford, CT 06117. Tel: 860-586-7517; Fax: 860-586-7550; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Virginia