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Governor signs legislation authorizing Syracuse University peace officer status
Governor signs legislation authorizing Syracuse University peace officer statusOctober 09, 2003Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
New state legislation authorized Oct. 7 by Gov. George E. Pataki will provide Syracuse University the ability to designate certain of its Public Safety officers as peace officers upon completion of appropriate background clearances and training.
Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw and the University’s Board of Trustees will determine, with input from the University community, the implementation process and time frame for enacting the peace officer powers. Discussions are anticipated in the University Senate, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Campus Security, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Parking, and a series of campus open forums is being planned.
SU sought the peace officer status in response to an increasing focus on national security and notable criminal incidents that have occurred in the University Hill area in recent years. In 2001, a team of external consultants from the International Association of Law Enforcement Administrators reviewed SU’s Department of Public Safety and recommended that the University explore peace officer status.
Peace officer status adds to the enhanced authority granted to SU Public Safety officers by state law in 1995 and is one step below police officer status. SU is one of several private colleges and universities in New York state-including Canisius College, Cornell University, Fordham University and Ithaca College-whose public safety staffs have been granted peace officer status. In 1998, all campuses of the State University of New York System-including SUNY ESF and SUNY Upstate in Syracuse-moved from peace officer to full police officer status.
State Sen. John A. DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) and state Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli (D-Syracuse) were sponsors of the legislation amending the state criminal procedure law relating to peace officers employed by Syracuse University. Both houses of the state Legislature passed it in June 2003.
“The peace officer legislation enables our Public Safety officers to better provide for the security and well-being of SU students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Shaw says. “This would not be possible without the support of Gov. Pataki and the tenacity of Sen. DeFrancisco and Assemblyman Magnarelli.”
“We’re very grateful for the terrific support-from fellow law enforcement, government, administrators and community-that helped us get through this initial step,” says SU Director of Public Safety Marlene E. Hall. “We look forward to campus discussions to explore further the process of implementation.”
State law grants those with peace officer status capabilities that are additional to the capabilities SU Public Safety have had under the enhanced authority granted in 1995. Among these new capabilities are:
- the authority to issue appearance tickets;
- the authority to issue tickets for simplified vehicle and traffic violations;
- the authority to enforce orders of protection;
- the authority to take into custody apparent mentally ill individuals who may harm themselves or others;
- the authority to carry out warrantless searches whenever such searches are constitutionally permissible;
- the authority to seize open containers of alcoholic beverages from individuals under 21 years of age;
- access to local, state and federal information to check for stolen property and vehicles, missing persons, offense records and wanted persons;
The law also allows peace officers to carry firearms if they have undergone proper screening and training. Any decision to arm SU Public Safety officers will be made by Shaw and the Board of Trustees after thorough discussion of the topic within the University community.
Comments and questions about the peace officer status can be sent to SafeSU@syr.edu.