By Kelsey Jacobson
On Wednesday, November 4th, Senator Lively and Chair Berge addressed the Student Senate about having a police officer stationed on campus. At the first meeting, Lively talked about how campus safety is a top priority.
While Public Safety is responsible for all campus security, environmental health and safety, Lively and Berge believed that a trained police officer would have the knowledge and background when situations would arise where Public Safety would need guidance from a police officer. They went on to say how a trained police officer would offer an immediate response to dangerous situations and would offer a learning opportunity for BSU Public Safety Officers. Lively and Berge requested a trained police officer in a full-time position on campus—having to patrol the entire campus, such as any buildings operated and owned by BSU.
On Wednesday, November 18th, Lively and Berge addressed the Student Senate a second time. Lively and Berge addressed BSUSA with the results of tabling during the week of November 12th-18th to see if students were for or against having a police officer on campus. “Polling has shown an overwhelming majority in support of stationing a police officer on campus, with 190 students out of 242 in support,” said Lively.
On Wednesday, December 2nd, Student Senate came together to vote on the SB-16-05 bill. Officer Mike Mastin, Bemidji’s Chief of Police, expressed concern of having a police officer stationed on campus. “It would promote student interaction—less confrontational relationship between the police and students,” said officer Mastin. He went on to say that the assumption is that a licensed police officer on campus would provide a better response, yet this would not be the case.
Casey McCarthy, Director of Public Safety, talked about how Public Safety and the police station communicate on a daily basis and during huge events on campus licensed police officers are contracted to be there. Yet people’s misconceptions about Public Safety are always based on preconceived thoughts as to what they can and cannot do. There are five officers who are eligible to be licensed police officers, having the knowledge and training to be responders to non-criminal calls and knowing the college better than a state police officer. Yet the only difference is a police officer licensed through the state is able to use deadly force while Public Safety is a hands-off department.
“We are the few, if not only, full-time professional staff, basically police officers within trained students that bring professionalism to BSU,” said McCarthy. With that said, the bill did not pass.