Opinion: Campus Police

“Probable Cause: A Grey Area” by Derek Staples

Campus Police Department (photo by Tom Doyle)

Just about everyone who attends or works at this university has to follow a set of rules that are enforced by a superior authority. But when it comes to the campus police, who keeps their jurisdiction in check? Although they do an exceptional job keeping the campus safe from crime, I believe they often infringe upon the rights of students in their efforts to combat underage drinking. For instance, last Friday night I was at an off-campus apartment which has already built up a reputation with campus police for housing underage drinking. I noticed early in the night that police were keeping a close eye on the house, with a cruiser parked across that street for the majority of the night. There were only about ten or fifteen people at the house, which was why I was surprised to see a few Fitchburg Police officers open the door and walk into the house without being let in by anyone. They proceeded to get ID’s from everyone, and they soon came to realize that there were minors in the presence of alcohol. Everyone who did not live at the house were told to leave, but the results were otherwise inconsequential. However, the most striking aspect of this run-in with the police was that, to the best of my knowledge, the police did not have a search warrant or a reasonable suspicion constituting probable cause, which is required for the police to be able to enter a private property/residence unannounced. For the most part, Fitchburg Campus Police execute their job professionally and capably, but the police need to realize and respect our constitutional rights.
“Wasted Resources?” by Jay Krieger
Should I engage in underage drinking? Probably not, but the fact is that for a majority of those that attend college, they will indulge in underage drinking. It’s a part of college that will never go away despite measures that the school has implemented to combat it. That said, a majority of those that engage in underage drinking don’t cause fights or destroy public property. If a majority of the student body caused violence as a result of drinking then, come Thursday night, campus and several streets off campus would look like a warzone. And they simply don’t. Do some students decide to lose control and stand out from those that despite being under the influence are just looking to hang out with friends and have a good time? Absolutely. But its ludicrous that the rest of the student body, who are underage, might be kicked out of on campus housing or be detained or arrested by police for enjoying a few beers.
Again, I’m in full acknowledgement that drinking under the age of 21 is against the law yet the extreme measures that Campus Police and residential assistants go to combat underage drinking seem like a waste of resources.  And usually affect those that aren’t causing a disturbance. Hypothetically , if a student at a party has only had only two beers and a police officer is called to break up a party and sees that student holding a bottle they can be detained after revealing they’re only 20. Meanwhile there are kids walking out the door with no bottles who have been binge drinking all evening. In addition, are police resources really being wasted on breaking up a party, not of “Project X” proportions, because a couple of friends are drinking a few beers?
Campus Police are cracking down on students with fridges that look like this one. (photo by Tom Doyle)

In a city as notorious as Fitchburg for its crime and drug problems shouldn’t Campus Police focus their energy patrolling the campus and those streets surrounding campus looking to deter those that would consider engaging in violent actions? Every semester we read of a student being attacked by “individuals” and these individuals are most likely, despite not being reported as so, locals. People that do not attend the school and are looking to either rob or harm others. Is alcohol a factor in violent crimes regardless of if the person attends the school or not? Absolutely. But it seems that resources are being wasted on combating those who aren’t engaging in violent activities and are being focused on students who are not the real problem. .
That said, if any student decides to drink any amount of alcohol legally or illegally, please, don’t drive or get into a car with someone who has been. Walk home or call campus police for a ride back to your dormitory.
“The Law is the Law” by C. Withers
As I am a law-abiding citizen who does not drink or partake in forbidden substances, I believe that the current actions of the campus police are commendable. They strike at the heart of hedonistic opulence by investigating the average folk. The actions of drug users and underage drinkers are difficult to pinpoint so the police must take action by making sure that they investigate even the most innocent looking citizens to locate the lawbreakers of our society.