Dealing with Campus Police This Summer
The school year has ended for most students. Two semesters of college classes have come and gone. For some, summer classes mean that the year isn’t really over.
When you attend college, chances are that you will see or encounter campus police. All colleges and universities are tasked with the responsibility of keeping their students and staff safe. Campus police are employed for just this reason. It’s important for college students to understand that campus police aren’t security guards or “rent-a-cops”; they are police officers just like those employed by city departments.
Here are a few common questions and answers when it comes to university and college police forces.
1. Is a Campus Cop a Real Cop?
The simple answer to this question is yes. The extent of their authority, however, depends on the school. While most colleges and universities employ an actual police force, some will contract a private security company instead.
If you can’t distinguish whether or not the campus police are real police by their uniforms and patrol cars, simply ask. If private security guards comprise the campus police force, you do not have a legal obligation to comply. That said, you do have an obligation as a student to comply, and not doing so could bring consequences from the school itself.
2. Do I Have to Talk to a Campus Cop?
Your Fifth Amendment right still stands, regardless of who is questioning you. You have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to ask for an attorney before you answer questions. Again, while this is the case legally, it may not be the case as far as school policy goes.
If you are stopped and questioned by a “real” campus police officer, you may choose to answer questions or you can invoke your right to remain silent. Know that if you do choose to remain silent, you could face disciplinary action from the school.
3. Can Campus Police Search My Dorm Room?
A campus police officer cannot search you or your dorm room without probable cause. They can pat you down for a weapon, but that is all. As previously discussed, you could face consequences from the school if you do not consent to a search. Read the rules of your dorm. The school may have wording in place that outlines when your room can be searched and by whom.
If the search is to be part of a criminal investigation, your rights are in place. While the school reserves the right to inspect your room for hazardous conditions or maintenance issues, if the police want to search your room for evidence to a crime, they will need a warrant. Understand that if you have a roommate, their consent could be enough in most cases.
Because policies are different from school to school, your experience with campus police may be different than what is outlined here. The most important thing you can do is read through your college’s policies and ask questions if you have any confusion. If you do find yourself in legal trouble with campus or city police in Atlanta, you have the right to an attorney. Call the attorneys at Hawkins Spizman Fortas today for a free, no-obligation consultation.