Policing in higher education settings has seen major advancements since the first campus police department was established at Yale University in 1894. Campus police forces nationwide have evolved and become professional voices in the law enforcement world, and at the same time have developed into active and vital members of the unique campus environment. The Virginia Tech shooting in April 2007 was a tragic, yet vital event that led many campus police departments to unite and formulate crisis management plans for their university community.
University policing of the past:
- According to a publication from the IACLEA, faculty and staff were largely responsible for enforcement of college rules/regulations both inside and outside of the classroom.
- Local police were only called when necessary to investigate criminal acts on a campus, but these interventions by local police often formed poor student-police relationships.
- 1960s-70s was an era of many student protests, and campus police had more of a “public safety” role rather than a law enforcement role which was demonstrated by local police instead.
How university policing has emerged:
- Campus police was re-addressed and considered necessary after the September 11th terrorist attacks because universities were seen as “vulnerable targets of terror”.
- The VA Tech shootings further justified the need for a professional, full- forced and equipped law enforcement agency on college campuses nationwide.
- Campus policing has become more collective and collaborative, working with multiple areas within the campus community to serve more than just responders to crime.
“The reality is, history has shown, that most of the life threatening events that have occurred on campuses are over in five to ten minutes, therefore the rapid and appropriate response to such events is critical if lives are to be saved…the days that Campus Law Enforcement was looked upon as something less of professional Law Enforcement has passed.”- Chief Robert Beach, Longwood University
Overall, campus police forces have become known as a vital aspect to a collegiate atmosphere due to the many changes amongst the campuses of today. Campus police have become influential voices in the law enforcement community, and have also developed more positive relationships between police and their students.
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