The latest in the disturbing string of highly publicized police shootings injects a new consideration.
The officer involved — now charged with murder — was a member of the University of Cincinnati’s campus security. The Cincinnati Enquirer is asking readers if the university’s police department should now be dismantled.
Let’s quell such questions before they are raised here.
The poll in Ohio is in response to Wednesday’s indictment of a white campus officer, Raymond Tensing, in the killing of Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black man shot in the head after being pulled over a half mile off campus for not having a front license plate.
From the evidence so far, the shooting appears to be an egregious use of force by an officer who overreacted during a stop that was questionable to begin with. How likely would such an off-campus stop be for local campus police?
Not likely. All four of the University of Missouri campuses, including the University of Missouri-Kansas City, have their own police departments. So does the Metropolitan Community College system.
They are certified and sworn officers, able to arrest and issue citations. The Washington Post reports that more than nine in 10 public colleges and universities employ sworn officers.
However, UMKC’s 28 armed officers don’t regularly patrol off campus, according to a spokesman. They go back and forth between university properties but focus on providing security for students and staff. In a way, they are adjuncts to and co-workers with the Kansas City Police Department.
The department recently contacted university police when a robbery suspect ran onto the UMKC campus. Campus officers apprehended the man.
At the same time, campus police regularly perform non-911 emergency duties. Students, staff and visitors at UMKC can summon campus police and be escorted to their car at night. Or get help with being locked out of a car.
After Ferguson, a city that erupted after the shooting death of Michael Brown, UMKC’s force wisely began wearing body cameras. They had already been using dashcams.
It seems we have the best of both worlds — trained officers working with city police when necessary but focused on issues specific to UMKC, not off campus.
Their presence also ought to curb arguments for allowing students to carry firearms on campus or in residence halls. Trained officers are nearby. There’s no need to raise the risk of accidental shootings.