Criminal Justice

If It Looks Like a Pig, and It Acts Like a Pig…

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The Segway fights crime!

Are campus police "real" police? A case involving the boys in (Yale) blue raises interesting questions:

"If you dress like a cop and you act like a cop, you should be accountable like a cop," said Janet R. Perrotti, the New Haven public defender who brought the complaint against the Yale police.

Last spring, a black teenager was arrested and taken to jail for riding his bicycle on a sidewalk just outside the Yale campus. Perrotti, who suspected "police misconduct" and called the arrest "clearly a case of racial profiling," said she was denied access to certain information because of the offender's age.

Perrotti—who dubbed the Yale police a "secret society"—filed a freedom of information request in June asking for the information.

I'm all for the public being about to check in on guys who can arrest citizens (even off campus, as in the New Haven case), but some are spinning the story as an object lesson in the dangerous, secretive ways of private corporations. The Christian Science Monitor quotes one particularly tangled up critic:

"For PR purposes, colleges want to perpetuate the impression that their campuses are crime-free enclaves," says Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va., which supports college newspapers. "Honestly, no one believes that. Everyone believes that a campus with 20,000 or 30,000 young people on it is going to have some crime. It's not even an effective charade."

Listen to a story on the case from NPR.

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  1. Is it really necessary to call the cops pigs?

  2. This is hue and cry over nothing. Campuses employ security staff and sworn officers. The officers are the ones with the guns. They are regular police. If this lawyer can’t get information about a case because its sealed due to the defendant’s juvenile status, what’s that have to do with the police being privately affiliated? Nothing. “Secret society,” my yellow butt.

    Typically, officers employed by universities are better trained, better compensated, and better in tune with the people they serve. For those reasons, they’re less likely to abuse their authority.

  3. No rapes happen in college towns. It’s a good thing too, cuz if they did, parents might not send their daughters there.

  4. Is it necessary to call the pigs cops?

  5. Seriously though, I never had any problem with campus cops. Although, come to think of it, they did steal a keg of mine that one time…fucking pigs.

  6. “If you dress like a cop and you act like a cop, you should be accountable like a cop,” said Janet R. Perrott

    Sounds reasonable enough

  7. In general, should private institutions be subject to FOIA, especially requests by government employees (e.g. public defenders)?

    Obviously no – at least to libertarians. Crafting exceptions isn’t easy.

  8. Years ago in college, I got asked to come to the campus police station to answer some questions about a vandalized kitchen. I had not done it but some people who didn’t like me fingered my cousin and me (their friends from out of town had done it). I had a reputation so it wasn’t totally crazy.

    The cop tried to trick me into confessing, which was hilarious, but the best part was when he said “you know, we can get excellent fingerprints from the frozen orange juice smeared on the walls”. I was also still a little fucked up from the night before so the whole thing was surreal and my answers to him were…weird.

  9. Is it really necessary to call the cops pigs?

    Yes, that is quite uncalled for and unfair… to the pigs.

  10. yeah.. it doesn’t reflect well on the objectivity of the magazine/blog to refer to cops as pigs in the title of a post…. leave that to the commenters. I mean, for a magazine called Reason,

  11. “For PR purposes, colleges want to perpetuate the impression that their campuses are crime-free enclaves,” says Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va., which supports college newspapers. “Honestly, no one believes that. Everyone believes that a campus with 20,000 or 30,000 young people on it is going to have some crime. It’s not even an effective charade.”

    I made small talk with a middle-aged guy at a fast-food restaurant today who was utterly appalled at the idea that my off-campus housing would be home to the occasional stabbing. He threw up his hands and declared that “college students going after college students! What is this world coming to?” and demanded to understand the rational of why one college student would commit a crime against another college student.

    Incidentally, my rolled-up copy of Reason was what started up the conversation.

  12. …and one of the banner ads is promoting online degrees in “Careers in Law Enforcement”. Awesome…

  13. but some are spinning the story as an object lesson in the dangerous, secretive ways of private corporations

    I’m a libertarian, and even I am honest enough to admit that this is true. What are you trying to imply? That because campus police are private they can’t be dangerous? That private corporations are not as abusive as “public” ones?

  14. KMW,

    I’d say that whatever benefits they might create that corporate bodies – be they public or private – should be viewed if not with suspicion then at least a realization aggregated hierarchies have often run amok.

  15. my rolled-up copy of Reason

    Make my day.

  16. TomHynes –

    It’s pretty simple to me: if the campus police can make arrests one millimeter off of campus property, they’re no longer a private organization but part of the state.

    If Yale wants its police force to not be subject to public scrutiny, keep them on campus property and nowhere else. Problem solved.

  17. Campus Cop arrests kid OFF CAMPUS. The kid’s lawyer wants information about the cop as part of her defense of the kid.

    Cop has uniform, powers to arrest and use force and all that. If it were a City cop, the information would HAVE TO BE PROVIDED.

    Why should the campus cops have all the powers of city cops and not be accountable.

    I’m with the lawyer.

    x

  18. Episiarch got fingered. Ouch.

    Oh yeah: If you want an object lesson in secret corporate police, read Carl Hiassen’s Team Rodent.

  19. “…and one of the banner ads is promoting online degrees in “Careers in Law Enforcement”. Awesome…”

    Yeah, that’s a line of work which really contributes to our GNP, oh, I forgot, we’re a consumer nation, so it’s GDP.

  20. If he has the power to arrest than he’s a cop.A security guard detains till the police show.Since when did private businesses receive state powers of arrest?

  21. I dunno, organizations with a local monopoly on force (or quasi-monopoly, since local cops tend to leave campus cops to do their thing) and an incentive to maintain an image will do all sorts of shady things, public or private.

  22. Yale Police are New Haven Police, just administratively separate and paid by Yale. That’s where they get their authority from. And like other cops, they have jurisdiction over the entire city — just like the NHPD has jurisdiction over campus. They’ve just made agreements over who patrols what areas for efficiency.

    If NHPD were more effective, then Yale Police wouldn’t need to be so proactive. All grad students live off campus, as do a lot of faculty and their families. There are a couple muggings a month as people walk to and from home.

    To complicate matters, Yale is an urban campus — all of the streets and sidewalks are city property. So technically, the moment you step out of a building, you’re “off campus”.

  23. Cop has uniform, powers to arrest and use force and all that. If it were a City cop, the information would HAVE TO BE PROVIDED.

    FOIA has a broad exception for law enforcement related activities, so it’s not necessarily true that City Cops would have to provide the information.

  24. “”Oh yeah: If you want an object lesson in secret corporate police, read Carl Hiassen’s Team Rodent.“”

    How about a brief summary, so we don’t have to read it not to embarrass ourselves further.

  25. “A security guard detains till the police show.Since when did private businesses receive state powers of arrest?”

    I know here in Colorado, the Colorado State University Campus Cops can and will pull you over off campus because they are actually State Police. I know this because my girlfriend got pulled over by one.

  26. UConn police are state police.

  27. I really don’t think that any cop should have powers that all citizens don’t have.

    But if they do, and the campus ones do also, then by all means they should be subject to FOIA and all that.

  28. Years ago, while in college, I had a run in with the campus police. Late at night at night, it was hot, and I had left my dorm room door open to let in some coolish air. Campus cop came in my room and woke me up. Hot and groggy, I guess I wasn’t able to answer his questions in a timely manner, so he started interrogating me. Oddly, this was one of the few times I didn’t go to sleep drunk or stoned.

    Pissed me off. He wouldn’t leave. So I picked up the phone, called 911 real quick, and the real cops came. When they asked why I called, I told them it was because I had an intruder in my room that wouldn’t leave.

    They were not amused.

  29. http://www.vachiefs.org/vapleac/vplb/2-2/sept07_Meek.htm

    I guess that the Connecticut has granted police powers to Yale similar to those granted by Virginia to private and public universities. My daughter was given an open-container ticket by an undercover VCU police officer, the officer showed up in court in a Virginia State Police uniform.

  30. This piece poses interesting questions, but I’m guessing the sophmoric title probably turned off a number of readers (I have noticed that libertarians are less likely to get off on knee-jerk cop-bashing than radical leftists). Did we wake up in the summer of ’68 again Katherine? Your attempt at provocation was rather pathetic. Have the frat douche bags and “campus activists” taken over at Reason? Ron Paul recently denounced racism as a form of collectivist thinking. Couldn’t one level the same criticism at those who think it is rebellious (or funny) to use played out slurs to denigrate any INDIVIDUAL that is employed as a law enforcement officer? I am fine with criticizing ineffective policies, corruption or abuse of power, but this kind of bigotry (that’s right folks, let’s call it what it is)is irrational. And aren’t libertarians supposed to be rational thinkers? I expect better from the staff of Reason. Let’s grow up kids!

  31. Pretty much all campus police (as opposed to security guards) are real cops with full arrest powers and everything else, on and off campus. E.g. at USC in Los Angeles, USC DPS (dept. of protective services) officers are armed and regularly police the area around campus as well as on campus. They hand over arrestees to the LAPD, but do the arrests themselves.

    Colleges aren’t the only private companies with police forces. Railroad police – employed by the railroads – are also full police officers with powers of arrest.

  32. what i’m concerned about is that the kid was arrested for riding his bike on the sidewalk. of course it’s illegal, but…

  33. “… Couldn’t one level the same criticism at those who think it is rebellious (or funny) to use played out slurs to denigrate any INDIVIDUAL hat is employed as a law enforcement officer?”

    Cops aren’t people. They’re cops. When that person hides behind a uniform, a badge, a gun and the laws to bully people, he/she gives up individuality and becomes a fucking pig. They are agents of the state, not people.

  34. Curious… is that photo from the same area? If so, why the fuck can a cop ride a Segway on a sidewalk, but a student can’t ride a bicycle there?

    CB

  35. Couldn’t one level the same criticism at those who think it is rebellious (or funny) to use played out slurs to denigrate any INDIVIDUAL that is employed as a law enforcement officer?

    As individuals, cops made the choice to become point for the abuses of the state. Any opprobrium we can heap on individuals for their poor choices in supporting statist tyranny is not, by any stretch of the imagination, racism, nor is it undeserved. If they don’t want the contempt of honest citizens, maybe they should buck up and get a better job that doesn’t involve trampling on our rights.

    More succinctly, fuck the police.

  36. “If you dress like a cop and you act like a cop, you should be accountable like a cop.”

    So they shouldn’t be accountable at all?

  37. I was caught the middle of a campus “investigation” once, and it was a nightmare. Under most campus rules you don’t have standard rights and the burden of proof is on the defendant. I never got to face my accuser or see the evidence (hearsay) against me. I was told that I would face expulsion if I didn’t comply. I was given “standard paperwork” to fill out when I was summoned to the Judicial Affairs Department. This paperwork, I later found out, ensured that I would accept the verdict against me. I was forced to testify against myself. When I refused I was shown the paperwork that I signed and again threatened with expulsion. All because I was “aware” of a off campus party where minors had become intoxicated and I did not report the incident to the university.

  38. To Paul and T: The “state” is not an entity composed of robots or aliens, it is made up of human employees working for different levels of government. I think most people (and most libertarians) understand this. Vulgar anarchists, of course, do not. To deny any group of people their humanity simply because they work in government and enforce laws is contemptible. It is absurd to assume that anyone who pursues a police career wants to trample rights or “bully people.” Haven’t you guys ever studied logical fallacies? In my case, this charge is demonstrably false, as I have been a vocal civil libertarian and a police applicant at the same time. I would not sacrifice my principals to work in this field, but I do, for the most part, find it to be intriguing. As I stated previously, I join many others in condemning ineffective or unconstitutional practices in law enforcement, but I resent obvious bigotry (I don’t even like lawyer jokes). As a person who has investigated careers in law enforcement, and is currently employed in another area of public safety, I find these comments to be sad and indicative of a retrograde subculture within the libertarian movement. By the way, I’d rather be a copper than a cog in a multinational corporation. So, Paul and T, crawl out of your cubicles and suck on that (oops, I sunk to your levels, but it felt sooo good). Left-libertarian dittos!

  39. I know pig is a slur for cops, but what exactly is its significance?

  40. Hummels,
    Agreed. This choice of title for a post is totally childhish. Or is it that Reason has become so desperate for readership that it’s choosing shock titles to grab new readers.

    Anyway, grow up Katherine. And Matt, I think you need to pay closer attention to the bigotry your writers are printing.

  41. “”I would not sacrifice my principals to work in this field, but I do, for the most part, find it to be intriguing.””

    I guess it depends on how you view looking the other way. If would have, or if you did become a police officer, at some point you will run into the cop doing a crooked deed. If you turn your back, you are part of the problem, if you report it, you won’t be a cop long. Serpico wan’t just a move.

    As the real Frank Serpico said, it will stay corrupt until the bad cops fear the good cops, not the other way around.

  42. Abdul,
    The Yale PD ultimately said that they were not accountable to FOI requests because they were not a government entity and answered only to those up the chain of command of Yale University.

    That is the problem. If you have powers of arrest, then your organization needs to be accountable for its actions.

    The NHPD has not clarified where the YPD supposedly gets its powers of arrest. I’ve suggested on Local bulliten boards that you resist kidnapping by this private (by their own accounting) security force. And use any “reasonable” means necessary to prevent your kidnapping. Up to and including deadly force if you reasonably feel that you are in danger of grave bodily harm.

    Don Mei
    Outside of New Haven, CT

  43. by the way, historically, the Yale PD officers were originally special constables of the NHPD. They derived their legal authority from the NHPD, an organization that is accountable for its actions.

    Don

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