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The Blue & Gray Press | May 23, 2018

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Staff Editorial: Proposed Law Could Transfer Police Power

When a UMW student was raped in 2008 in the parking garage, the entire university was shocked by not only the incident, but by the handling of the case, which later led to a $10 million lawsuit against the university.

However, a new bill introduced by Virginia Representative Paula Miller (D, Norfolk) could effectively change who handles similar cases.

The bill would require that UMW police report deaths or alleged rapes that occur on campus to Fredericksburg Police Department.  The Fredericksburg police would then be responsible for the investigation, with cooperation from UMW.

While we are thankful to campus police, the Fredericksburg police have far more training and experience in handling violent crimes.  This experience could be valuable in intense situations that a smaller police force rarely sees.

Also, city police would not have the same conflict of interest that the campus police might have in protecting the university’s reputation.  City police would not be subject to the same pressure from the administration.

However, it is understandable that campus police may feel territorial about their jurisdiction.  They work hard here to make sure students are protected, but Fredericksburg police have more of the tools and personnel.  Ideally, a joint effort would yield the best results.

Especially amid the $10 million lawsuit, this bill could allow students to feel safer with help from both UMW and Fredericksburg police.

At times, the Bullet and UMW students are confused by which police force to call, or which police force will handle certain crimes.

This bill also has implications for other university colleges.  For example, the University of Virginia had a similar rape incident that was dismissed by campus police.

While we certainly hope that UMW avoids these cases in the future by using precautionary strategies, this bill could help ease the confusion over jurisdiction in rapes and deaths.

Comments

  1. Many people living in the Commonwealth, to include most lawmakers, are under the assumption that local law enforcement has the jurisdiction to investigate any crime that occurs on a college campus. Unfortunately, that assumption is wrong. Campus police have jurisdictional rights for dormitories and classroom buildings. Local law enforcement may be called in to assist, but unless the University or college transfers jurisdiction to them, campus police retain jurisdiction.

    This bill would change that. Whenever a felony crime occurs on campus property, the local law enforcement would be called and jurisdiction could transfer because of the nature of the crime – if either the campus police or the victim requested that the local department take the lead. Universities should welcome this clause as it would relieve them of the scrutiny that exists during the the prosecution of these crimes.

    This bill is not meant to demean the hardworking campus police, but to aid them. It allows the crime to also be investigated by the local police, who are highly trained and staffed to handle crimes of this magnitude.

    Why this bill? Because as statistics across Virginia demonstrate, campus police tend to turn a blind eye to campus rape crimes. They treat them as administrative matters. Rape is a felony crime and should be investigated and handled as a felony crime.

  2. I like you personal aidtidon to the book review. Topics are always more interesting when you can draw from your own experiences and apply them to the subject at hand. Your story about the rum girl reminds me of how Admiral Lord Nelson was preserved in a barrel of brandy when he died in battle at sea, so he could be preserved until they returned to England.