Pushing the Boundaries? ND Lawmakers Consider Bill that Expands Jurisdiction of Campus Police

The bill is intended to protect the greater community and not just those on campus

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota lawmakers are considering a bill that expands the jurisdiction of campus police officers.

A co–sponsor of the bill said it’s all about increasing public safety for the entire community and not just the school.

Right now, campus police have no jurisdiction off campus.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow campus police to go beyond those boundaries.

“There’s a lot of foot traffic that travels in those neighborhoods back and forth,” said NDSU Chief Bill Vandal of the University Police and Safety Office. “It’s just going to be a lot more of our squad cars, along with Fargo Police who already patrol that area.”

State Representative Jake Blum of Grand Forks, a co–sponsor of the bill, said it will soon be debated in the House.

The bill has already left the committee.

“We heard lengthy testimony, probably roughly about two and a half hours,” said Blum. “We heard from the campus police departments. We had a representative from the state board of higher education there.”

“This will allow us to go into the neighborhoods around campus where a lot of our students live and it help us with one of the values that we have: community partnership,” said Chief Vandal. “It will help us interact with the community and the Fargo Police a lot more in the areas surrounding the campus.”

NDSU Police hope that this bill makes it easier to respond to nearby incidents, without getting the call for assistance from Fargo Police.

“If we hear it on the scanner and we know that they’re going to that location, we might be a block away where we can just meet them there,” said Chief Vandal.

“It’s the difference between having a police officer on the site if there is an emergency relatively immediately, in seconds, within a minute, as opposed to ten minutes or longer,” said Blum. “That window of time can be a life or death situation.”

The specific schools mentioned in the bill are NDSU, UND, and NDSCS.

“You’re going to see more of us out there if they need something,” confirmed Chief Vandal. “It’s just going to help us serve our campus community a lot better.”

You can read the bill here.

A Fargo Police Deputy Chief said if the bill passes, it won’t change anything for them and they will continue to serve the area around campus as well.

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