College is a time of meeting new people and having new experiences. While that’s an important part of growing up, it can lead to trouble. You hope that your child doesn’t have any encounters with campus police beyond a pleasant greeting. However, if they do, it’s important that they take these officers seriously if they’re questioned, detained or taken into custody.
Too many college students don’t think of campus police as “real” police. However, many larger universities, like the University of Maryland, have their own police departments. UMPD officers
“have all the same powers and authority as any other sworn police officer in Maryland.” That includes making arrests. Further, in some circumstances, they have the authority to enforce the law away from campus.
Even if your child goes to a college that has a private security force, they are granted authority by the school and likely work closely with local law enforcement agencies. Therefore, it’s always best to treat them with respect.
College students still have constitutional rights
None of this, however, means that college students don’t have rights. While they are expected to abide by college regulations as well as the law, they have the same constitutional rights as everyone else, which they should learn how to assert confidently but respectfully.
Just as if they encountered a police officer back home, they are protected against unreasonable search and seizure and self-incrimination when dealing with a campus police officer. (They could, however, face disciplinary consequences from the school if they don’t cooperate with an investigation.)
If your child is arrested for a drug-related offense, weapons charge, a violent act or any other crime, it’s important to understand that they could face criminal penalties as well as harsh disciplinary action by the school. While you may be tempted to let your child “learn a lesson,” it could be one that will follow them for the rest of their lives. It’s crucial that they have experienced legal guidance.