Staff Editorial: Shifting University Police policy worth hassle

Blue light phones and University Police patrol cars across campus reassure students that their safety is a priority of administration, but for those who live off campus, even dire emergencies don't fall under the province of UP, who have no say in the matter. The State of New York does not permit university officers to have any jurisdiction outside of campus-owned property.

According to Assistant Chief of University Police Scott Kenney, police jurisdictions for colleges as well as village and county authorities are "set by the state." Changing UP's area of control would not be just a matter of changing school policy, but a large and time consuming process which would involve a legislative amendment. So, would the benefits of extending UP's jurisdiction outweigh the time and effort required to changing state policy? The answer is yes.

According to Kenney, UP is more than willing to help off campus students. Their policy, which is considerate and beneficial to students, is to assist them in communicating with and getting proper help from the village or county police whose territory they are under. The difficulty with this system is that after an incident is over, especially one involving legal consequences, procedure is problematic.

Geneseo students are smart enough to know that they should never hesitate to call for help in the event of any emergencies, including potential alcohol poisoning or drug overdose. As Kenney correctly put it, "[Dealing with] the emergency comes first, the fallout later." Kenney is right - ensuring a student's immediate safety comes before anything else, and such is the policy of all New York police. But the consequences of a student's actions must be dealt with sooner or later, and when the results can include heavy fines, police reports or lease losses, simply "hoping for the best" becomes a frightening choice.

The process of extending UP's jurisdiction would be lengthy and involved. It would take time and effort for the state to negotiate and implement, but when considering the safety of students enrolled in public universities, the possibility is worth investigating.

UP's willingness to assist off campus students as much as possible under their current restrictions is appreciated, but we can only hope that the state legislature will remove the fear of consequences for future students under their full and excellent care.