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Don’t underestimate the authority of college or university police

On Behalf of | Oct 20, 2022 | Criminal Defense

When your child goes off to college, you want them to experience new things and meet new people. Unfortunately, not all of these experiences or people are positive. Young people away from home for the first time can make serious mistakes or just end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. This could bring them in contact with campus police.

Unfortunately, kids too often don’t take campus police officers as seriously as they need to. They may treat them more like mall security guards than law enforcement officers. The authority of campus officers varies by institution – but it should never be minimized.


Take, for example, the University of Florida (UF) Police Department. It is responsible for law enforcement on UF campuses throughout the state. Officers with the UFPD are considered state law enforcement officers. They have the right to arrest anyone on or within 1,000 feet of university property. They also have the right to make off-campus arrests if their pursuit began on campus or when asked to assist other law enforcement agencies.

It’s wise to find out what kind of authority the campus police have at whatever school your child is attending. It’s important to note, however, that even if it’s a private security force, the officers are given some authorities by the school to enforce the law and keep the campus secure. You can be sure that they have close ties with local law enforcement agencies.

College students should know their rights

College students have the same constitutional rights as anyone else. It’s important for them to understand those rights and not be afraid to firmly but calmly assert them.

One aspect of campus living that can infringe on those rights is sharing a dorm room or other housing (on or off campus). Police typically don’t have any more right to search campus housing than any other type of home. However, when you live with roommates, you can’t always control whether they allow police to come in or what they’ll find and where once they’re in.

If your college student has been arrested and is facing criminal charges, it’s important to make sure they have sound legal guidance. A conviction or even disciplinary action by the school can impact their future at the school and beyond.