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Gap in law may limit campus police powers



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(view as multiple pages)By Julie Manganis
Staff writer




SALEM — One driver ran a stop sign and kept driving even after an officer pulled behind her. The other made an illegal turn and headed down the wrong side of the road. Both, say police, were drunk.

But because the officer who stopped both drivers last year is a member of the Salem State College campus police, lawyers for the two are arguing that he had no right to stop either.

That's because the law that gives campus police officers the authority to make arrests doesn't specifically give them the authority to make traffic stops — a gap that could lead to drunken driving and other criminal charges being tossed out of court.

"These are police officers who have the power of arrest and therefore should be able to enforce anything having to do with peace and safety on their campus," said Gordon College director of public safety Jeff Hoy. "To me, it's common sense that motor vehicle infractions are part of that."

Prosecutors say another law on the books clearly gives campus police the right to enforce traffic and parking regulations. But more than a year ago, the Registry of Motor Vehicles stopped sending ticket books to campus police departments, saying they no longer believe campus police have the authority to make stops.

"Someone here had taken a look at the law a couple of years ago and realized that campus police chiefs weren't defined under the law as having the authority to issue these tickets," Registry spokeswoman Amie O'Hearn said.

Salem State College Police Chief Brian Pray said he hopes it's just a disagreement over the interpretation of the law. He said he wasn't aware it was a problem until the Registry stopped sending them ticket books.

"Hopefully, it's an oversight or a misinterpretation of the statute," said Pray.

But he and other campus safety officials are backing pending legislation to clarify the law — just in case.

State college campus police, like those at Salem State or North Shore Community College, who are designated as "special state police officers," still have the authority to make arrests for criminal offenses like drunken driving or drug possession. But just like any other police, they need probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. And unless they actually stop the car, they will not be able to determine that, creating a Catch-22 situation.

Private schools can seek special state police status if they meet certain training requirements. On the North Shore, Gordon College in Wenham has done that, though Hoy says they rarely, if ever, make arrests. Endicott College in Beverly has security officers but no police department.

Effect is seen in court

Last September, a 19-year-old student was stopped after running a stop sign on the Salem State campus in front of Peabody Hall. Campus police Sgt. Richard Sherry suspected she was drunk and asked her to perform field sobriety tests, several of which she failed. Based on that, he charged her with drunken driving.

Her lawyer, John Mihos, convinced Salem District Court Judge Richard Mori to dismiss the charge last April on the basis that Sherry did not have the authority to make the stop.

Prosecutors urged Mori to reconsider, and in May, he reinstated the charges. Earlier this week he held to his decision to restore the charges — even after Mihos argued that Sherry's testimony in support of the pending legislation at a State House hearing last month was an acknowledgement of the uncertainty over the law.

This week, another lawyer will ask a Salem District Court judge to dismiss drunken driving charges against a Cape Cod man arrested on campus in January 2004, after he was seen making an improper turn and then heading down the wrong side of a road near campus.

Both Pray and Hoy say they must be able to enforce all state laws and regulations on campus, given their duty to protect their students.

Several legislators have been pushing to amend the law to clarify campus police powers. That bill, Senate 2132, is pending in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Pray said he has been talking to Sen. Fred Berry's office about the need for the legislation. "The legislation would remove all doubt," Pray said. "I hate to entertain that thought that the officers wouldn't be able to stop vehicles."

Pray said the department at Salem State still has a stash of ticket books and will continue to make stops on campus.

"We will continue to effect public safety on campus," he said. "We just hope that the Registry gives us the tools that are available."
 

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OUI is an iffy stop since as stated in the article, they aren't sure the person is till they effect the stop. Oper. to endanger is a safer alternative which campus officers should be allowed to continue to do.

As far as all Chap 90 powers, I'm mixed on the subject. Would NU make NUPD collect the racial data :twisted:
 

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SPINMASS,

Just State and Community Colleges........the new law would just solidify previous laws granting us motor vehicle enforcement powers.

#11
 

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Here we go again with these double and triple standards! Only in MA... I'm not even a Campus Cop and it makes me mad, with all the different standards.
 

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I used to work for Babson PD and yes we had 90 books. We were sworn in as specials in Wellesley and Needham as well as State Police. The books came from the towns and your wrote the ticket and turned them in to Wellesley PD.
 

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j809";p="69570 said:
I used to work for Babson PD and yes we had 90 books. We were sworn in as specials in Wellesley and Needham as well as State Police. The books came from the towns and your wrote the ticket and turned them in to Wellesley PD.
Do they still do this?
 

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brits64";p="69636 said:
I heard that all state hospitals there cops have chapter 90 can any one confrim this
JEEZUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
:shock:
Here we go for the umpteenth time!!

1. YES the DMH/DMR campus police are specifically mentioned as police officers in CH. 90C/s.1. They can therefore be issued ticket books.
:wink:
2. The State and Community College Police officers have CH. 90 authority granted by MGL CH. 73/s.18 and CH. 15A/s.22
They have been issuing citations and processing them through the courts (and ultimately the RMV) for nearly FOUR DECADES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Massachusetts Legislature, through the above cited general laws, granted this power/authority/ability to Police Officers for a reason.
8)
Now, someone at the RMV decided to utilize the definition of a "police chief" under the narrow focus of CH90c/s.1 to STOP ISSUING ticket books to some colleges.
:roll:

Bottom line is that the definition of "Police Chief" under the context of issuing citation books, CANNOT trump Massachusetts General Laws that authorize "Police Officers" to enforce traffic and parking laws. (MGL Chapters 73/s.18 and 15A/s.22)

That is why the current bill mentioned above will CLARIFY for the RMV blockheads that the Legislature wants them to ISSUE ticket books to State Campus Police Agencies.

For some reason the Media and others have kept misrepresenting the issue. The State and Community Colleges have ALWAYS had the powers to enforce CH.90, if not the courts would have STOPPED processing CMVI and Criminal complaints written on Uniform Citations, DECADES ago!!!!!!!!

ANy more questions???????
](*,)
 

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You know what, Why doesn't mass just smarting up and give full jurisdiction of the state & full authority of all laws to all police (Campus, State, Local, Sheriffs {oops did i mention that?}). GEEEEE thats right, it would be too easy, and would make too much sense!

Oh, and why not have one maybe only two police academy programs instead of the confusing and pointless academies that are currenlty present.
 

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Yeah really!!!!
:lol:
RTT
MPOC
SSPO
RES/INT
and now.......
SPOC

I'm sure I missed one
 

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SPINMASS";p="69524 said:
Would the new bill allow private schools chapter 90 as well or just state schools.
Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought that just recently no college PDs private or state had the ability to write 90 citations. Also what about making stops in the interest of "Public Safety"? For example just the other night I was driving around the rotary in the center of Franklin and a van almost ran head on right into me. Dumb ass was driving the wrong way on the oneway street. I made the stop and got the heading in the right direction, now what if I just ignored it and he hit and killed someone. People would say "I saw a cruiser drive right by and do nothing." I'm certainly not gonna just drive by and hope nothing happens, or call the local PD and hope they can get the guy stopped in time, I'm gonna do whats right, regardless of what the state says or how pissed other people will get cause we just "campus cops" in their eyes. Same goes for someone who is drunk. :2c: Bottom line, if campus police are given the right of arrest for law enforcement it should ring true for all aspects of the law including chapter 90.
 

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i agree, I know I'm just pivate security, but don't we also ensure public safety? We should be able to enforce ch. 90 on mall property as well! :D
 

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MallPolice";p="70099 said:
i agree, I know I'm just pivate security, but don't we also ensure public safety? We should be able to enforce ch. 90 on mall property as well! :D
Oh boy. :roll: yeah thats a great idea :wm:
 

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WNEC is a private institution and we have Ch. 90 books. However, they are only used for criminal violations only; not for civil infractions. The courts here like to see the citation along with complaint on Ch. 90 related arrests.

I would assume that most colleges (particularly private) have traffic regulations imposed by the institution. Enforcement of college traffic regulations falls under the SSPO's "community caretaking" responsibilities. So if a stop for a traffic infraction leads to an OUI arrest, the case is still good because the officer is enforcing college regulations (not laws) and then assumes his SSPO role to make the arrest based on PC. Arrestee's are issued a college citation for the infractions of college traffic regulations and the Ch. 90 for the criminal.

Stops here are never made off campus, unless they start on campus. Courts have never had a problem with this Colleges in this area have been operating under this principle for many years and the courts are accustomed to it. So, legitimizing the traffic stop is based on your obligations to the college and not to the Commonwealth. Your ADA's gotta start thinking outside the box with SSPO's.
 

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sgt128-13";p="70157 said:
WNEC is a private institution and we have Ch. 90 books. However, they are only used for criminal violations only; not for civil infractions. The courts here like to see the citation along with complaint on Ch. 90 related arrests.

1. Who issues your Uniform Citation Books to WNEC? (where U get em?)

So, legitimizing the traffic stop is based on your obligations to the college and not to the Commonwealth. .
2. Whoa! are you saying college rules/regulations/policies trump Mass General laws, relating to anything criminal coming out of your stops?

SSPO and traffic enforcement are a thin vine to try to tie together.
:wink:
 

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I don't think he is saying that at all. He is right You stop a car for a violation of a college campus M/V reg which you are allowed to do, and you come across a CRIMINAL Ch90 violation happening in your precense in palin view such as OUI, 90/10, 90/23 so on and so forth you can arrest/summons all day and night. I will even go as far as to say when I was a college cop I had HERO defense attorneys try to get my shit tossed and did not suceed.
 

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Macop";p="70259 said:
He is right You stop a car for a violation of a college campus M/V reg which you are allowed to do, and you come across a CRIMINAL Ch90 violation happening in your precense in palin view such as OUI, 90/10, 90/23 so on and so forth you can arrest/summons all day and night.
Yep, that's exactly what I'm saying. As long as you can prove you're stopping the vehicle for an infraction of college traffic regs (and issue college traffic citation) then you are acting as a college official up until the point where it turns criminal. We've been doing this for years, with the help of MSP legal and the courts, to get around the fact that we can't enforce MA civil m/v infractions. If your college has written traffic regs and your own in-house (non Ch. 90) citations, you're clear. College traffic regs don't "trump" MGL, but they happen to coexist nicely with them, especially when you can't cite for civil Ch. 90.

Besides, the college gets to keep all the funds unlike Ch. 90. :wink:
 
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