In the larger conversation of policing reform, where do university police departments belong?
Over the past 2 years, police departments across the United States have come under heavy scrutiny. Whether people believe that some of the money used to fund police departments should be redirected to other community-based sources of aid for people in need (so-called “de-funding the police”), or that police departments simply need to address the well-publicized issues through more thorough training and vetting officers more intensely, almost everyone agrees that the devolution of police departments needs to be addressed.
While the Cleveland police department has had its share of questionable behaviors, the Cleveland State University police department has also created some apprehension amongst the student body. In fact, many students have wondered why the university employs an entire police department instead of contracting out security guards or a few officers from the Cleveland police department. These alternatives would likely spare the university a substantial amount of money and would likely not suffer from any increase in crime on campus.
Joe Deters, the prosecutor in the case of a University of Cincinnati police officer shooting Samuel DuBose during a traffic stop, does not “think a university should be in the policing business.” Universities, spaces of higher education, and personal growth should not be related to murders, such as that of Samuel DuBose.
According to Vox, universities did not obtain their own police departments until the 1960s, in response to the widespread civil rights protests at that time. While they have been formed largely as a response to protests rather than actual crime on campus, the university police departments respond to a variety of calls, including off-campus calls, in some cases.
While police presence is helpful in securing campuses, especially when considering the increase of school shootings across the nation, it seems unnecessary to employ an entire department, rather than contracting a few officers from the city’s department.