Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pepper-spray affair shows campus police walk fine line: Why aren't they protecting us?

Campus police can have many of the same rights and responsibilities of a municipal department - but they serve a more insular community.

On Friday, Officer John Pike made international headlines when he shot a bright-orange stream of pepper spray at protesting students at the University of California, Davis.

Mr Pike, a member of the UC Davis campus police, was kitted in full riot gear as he sprayed the students at close range.

It wasn't the first time this month campus police have made headlines in the US. A grand jury report on the Penn State sex abuse scandal revealed that in 1998, campus police launched a lengthy investigation into allegations that assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had molested a young boy.

These officers are a far cry from the "rent-a-cop" trope some may think of when it comes to campus security. But they're not aberrations.

American universities - many of which are larger than the towns they call home - have increasingly turned to their own police forces to keep campuses safe.

While some campus security forces consist of hired students or hourly security guards, others consist of trained officers, sworn to uphold the same laws as other police officers in the state.

In many cases, these campus officers have the power to make arrests and conduct investigations. Some even carry guns. more