Off-campus UP arrest raises questions among witnesses

On March 6, University Police (UP) ventured into a territory that is rarely considered their own - off-campus - to the surprise of several students who witnessed the incident.

In this particular episode, an unidentified student was issued a Vehicle and Traffic summons by UP for leaving the scene of an accident after causing "extensive damage" to the loading dock of Allegany Hall, according to Assistant Chief of Police Scott Kenney.

The summons was issued on Court Street in the parking lot behind the Statesmen bar, where the student drove after inflicting damage to Allegany. This charge also carries a fine that can amount to a maximum of $100 if convicted by the Geneseo Village Justice Court.

An eyewitness to the incident, who asked not to be identified, reported that she was not sure what exactly was going on because UP was blocking a residential parking lot and officers were questioning anyone who approached the area. "Eventually," she said, "UP was tipped off by a sorority sister and finally found the owner of the car in question. One officer was taking pictures of the car and another escorted the suspect into the UP car, unhandcuffed."

The incident shows that UP has powers that surpass the average student's expectations. "I was under the impression UP didn't go any farther than the campus," said freshman Julia Huff. "Anything farther than that," she continued, "I thought was under the village's authority. I never thought that they could become involved in cases that extended beyond the campus."

UP is a police force that operates in accordance with the New York State UP Manual of Rules on SUNY campuses so as to identify and prevent crime. It receives its power from the Education Law and Criminal Procedure Law. These laws permit any UP officer to make arrests, regardless of possession of a warrant, employ appropriate force when arresting, and issue warrants and summonses.

According to Kenney, "our officers are certified police officers so they retain their powers through the state." He continued, saying, "we have jurisdiction on campus and adjacent roadways as well as any other Geneseo property owned by the College." In addition to this, UP are bestowed with the power to enforce law in situations that begin on campus and move elsewhere, such as in this case, according to Kenney.

UP's Web site also distinguishes the difference between the force's on and off-campus jurisdiction.

According to UP's "Security Policy," crimes occurring on off-campus locations are under the jurisdictions of local law enforcement officials. UP can only assist these officials if and when needed.

UP also works in close connection with Livingston County sheriffs, the Village Police, and New York State Police. "We [UP] have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Geneseo Police force to further define what we do in the Village and what they can do on campus," said Kenney.

UP is also a member of a Livingston County agreement that requires that the force dispatch backup officers in emergency cases.