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What your college freshman should know about campus police

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If you’ve got a child going off to college in the fall, you’re hoping that their only interaction with campus security officers will be when they need directions as they bike across campus. However, maybe your child has a history of getting into some minor trouble and you’re afraid they may not always make the best decisions with their newfound freedom. Even kids who have never even faced detention in high school can end up in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people in college.

It’s important for college students to recognize that the people whose job it is to protect those on and around a college or university have authority and should be treated with the same respect as any law enforcement officer. That doesn’t mean students don’t have rights, of course. They have the same constitutional rights as anyone else. 

Where some students make things worse for themselves, however, is treating campus security personnel like people who have no authority. That can be a big mistake. No matter which college or university your child is attending – here in Virginia or anywhere in the country – it’s a good idea to find out just what kind of security force they have. 

Some schools have their own police departments

James Madison University (JMU), here in Harrisburg, for example, has its own police department with officers who have “comprehensive arrest powers.” Their jurisdiction includes not just the campus, but off-campus property owned, leased or otherwise controlled by JMU. 

Even a college that doesn’t have its own police force has security personnel who work closely with local law enforcement as needed. Therefore, you ignore or antagonize a security officer at your own risk.

Students can face disciplinary action by their school independent of criminal charges

College students, as we noted, have the same constitutional rights as other people if they’re being investigated, interrogated or under arrest. However, whether they face legal consequences for alleged actions or not, they may still face disciplinary action by their school that could cost them their scholarships or other financial aid and even get them expelled.

If your child is facing criminal charges, it’s crucial that they – and you – take them seriously. Having legal guidance can help protect their rights and mitigate the consequences.