Campus Police or University police in the United States and Canada are often sworn police officers employed by a college or university to protect the campus and surrounding areas and the people who live, work, and visit it.
Many university police forces employ a combination of police officers, security guards and student workers.
University police departments are established to provide a quicker response time to incidents on campus and to offer campus-specific services not necessarily available from local policing organizations. For many campuses, if there were no campus police the local agencies would have to almost double in size. Many larger universities have a student population comparable to or greater than the civilian population of the community. For example, the University of Massachusetts Amherst had 27,269 students in the fall of 2013, while Amherst, its host community, had an estimated total population of 37,819 that year. University police can also become familiar with the campus buildings and people, providing better service to the campus community.
University police's jurisdiction varies by location. Some university police have jurisdiction statewide, some have city wide or county wide jurisdiction. Some campus police departments' jurisdiction is limited to campus property, but may also include property and roadways adjacent to the campus.
As a result of the domestic violence and mass civil disturbances found across the nation in the 1960s and early 1970s, campus security often proved ineffective against riots and other violent civil demonstrations, occasionally resulting in injury to both the students and the officers. These campus security officers were often poorly trained, ineffectively led and unprepared to effectively respond to many turbulent and unanticipated events.
Consequently, a need emerged for a better solution for campus security, which led to the creation of university/campus police departments across the nation. Laws were passed and regulations enacted that provided officers with the necessary statutory authority to perform their expanded roles. Campus police officers were required to attend the police academy and to meet higher training and educational standards, particularly when dealing with campus-specific issues such as non-violent crisis management and riot training.
Alternatively, on some campuses, sworn police officers work side by side with campus security officers who perform similar duties and often assist each other. While some universities and colleges just employ campus security officers, it is common in the United States for a major university to have its own police force. On many campuses, the police employ students to act as escorts for students who do not want to walk alone at night, allowing the sworn police officers to concentrate on other enforcement related duties.
Canadian campus police are trained to standardized provincial curriculum. As peace officers, they are sworn in as special constables by the municipal police board in the jurisdiction that the respective university campus is based. While they have peace officer authority while engaged in duty, they do not have such powers off-duty.
Campus police do not exist in the Provinces of British Columbia and New Brunswick; in Quebec, only the University of Montreal have university peace officers. Instead, colleges and universities employ civilian security guards.
In the UK, universities do not have a specific police force that responds to crime on university campuses, with the exception of Cambridge University Constabulary and, until 2003, Oxford University Police. Instead most universities have a Police Liaison Officer seconded from the area's Police Service. The liaison officer can provide crime prevention and recruitment information, patrol of campus site and create links with community as part of the national Community Policing Strategy. It is also known for officers to take lectures in policing for students studying law, police studies etc. This allows students to gain first hand knowledge on policing and real life scenarios that the force faces.
Most university police officers are commissioned through their state Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) after completing established training and pre-licensure preparation. This is usually equivalent to that of a municipal or state peace officer. They routinely attend the same police academy as local or state police officers.
Many departments operate some of the same units as municipal agencies such as detective units, special response teams (SWAT or SRT), canine units, bicycle patrol units, motorcycle patrol units, and community policing units. In some cases, campus police agencies are better equipped and staffed than municipal and county agencies in their area due to the significant amount of funding available in a college environment.
The campus police in many state owned schools have state-wide authority and jurisdiction similar to that afforded to state police. Officers of the Colorado State University Police Department and the University of Colorado (Boulder) Police Department are commissioned officers of the state of Colorado, but also hold commissions through the cities and counties where their universities are based (respectively Fort Collins and Larimer County for CSU and the City of Boulder for CU). In Virginia, state law (VA. Code Section 23.232-23.236) allows campus police officers to be armed and have full police powers on and around the campus grounds with concurrent jurisdiction with the local police.
Campus police at public institutions in the state of Rhode Island are sworn police officers, but state law prohibits them from carrying firearms. Campus Police at private colleges or universities in the state, however, may be armed.
Hawaii, Idaho, and New Hampshire are the only states in the US to not have a statutory provision for the commissioning of sworn campus police officers. They were joined by Oregon until 2009, when that state revised its system of Campus law enforcement in Oregon.