Protecting Your Rights Throughout Eastern Iowa Since 1981

What college students should know about campus police

On Behalf of | Jan 29, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Whether your child will be starting or is already going to college close to home here in Iowa or at an out-of-state school, you hope their only contact with campus police officers is when they need to ask for directions. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many college students.

Even kids who have never gotten in trouble while living at home can find themselves in very serious trouble when they’re suddenly exposed to a wide range of people – many of whom are older than them. Even if they’ve done nothing illegal, they might be in the wrong place at the wrong time and find themselves being questioned or even detained by campus police. Their attitude toward these officers can in part determine the ultimate consequences they end up facing. 

The authority of university police departments

Some college students don’t consider campus police officers to be “real” police. In fact, on many campuses, they are. For example, officers who work for the University of Iowa Police Department are “state-certified, and enforce state, local, and federal laws.” The UIPD has a canine team trained to detect explosives and is part of a number of multi-jurisdictional teams that work with other law enforcement agencies in the area.

Some schools contract out their security, but you can be sure that these personnel work closely with local law enforcement agencies in their communities and beyond. Therefore, it’s never wise to treat these officers disrespectfully or ignore them.

College students have rights

Another thing it’s key for your college student to remember is that they have constitutional rights. It’s especially crucial for them to know when and how to assert these rights. This includes their right to have legal representation before being interrogated. 

A criminal conviction can have consequences to a college student’s education and far into the future. They shouldn’t face the justice system alone.