Dahlonega, the city where I live, doesn’t have a police department. Instead, it depends on primary law enforcement services being provided by the Lumpkin County Sherriff’s Office through a Service Delivery Strategy agreement with Lumpkin County. Because the Sherriff’s Office is understaffed, additional support is provided by the Georgia State Patrol and University of North Georgia Security. You got that right. The University Police, part of the University Department of Public Safety, are part of the official police force of the city where I live as well as the campus where I work.
Several years ago, I was pulled over by one of our University Police Officers. I was off campus, at a stop light. I had turned into the left turn lane before the street lines indicated a turn space. I was “let off” with a warning which I never forgot. That was the first time I became aware that the University Police had authority beyond the campus. I know now that all of the University Police Officers are trained and certified through the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.
On campus, I personally have had contact with University Police Officers when I locked myself out of my office after 5 pm. They promptly came to my assistance when I called for help. Also, I once reported a rather risqué telephone call from someone who identified himself by name but who was unknown to me. The University Police Officer took my report very seriously, knew the caller, and assured me that he would talk to the man right away.
A UNG colleague of mine felt threatened when a student followed her into a darkened stairwell. Another colleague called for help when he was blocked from leaving his office by an angry student who wanted to challenge a grade. And another colleague needed a restraining order enforced on campus. These are events that occurred at the University of North Georgia that were monitored and controlled by our University Police. At the University of Miami, where I had previously worked, I knew of colleagues and students who reported different events to University Police: battery, rape, murder. The University of Miami Police are certified through the city of Coral Gables which, unlike Dahlonega, has its own City Police.
Crimes occur everywhere: in big and small cities, on campus and off. And they are dealt with by different entities such as Marshalls, Sheriffs, City Police, and Campus Police. While these entities reflect different environments, they share the commonality of being part of their respective community. They serve that community and are held accountable to it. They are trained and certified according to their state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training, which involves annual classes and tests. And my community, my city, and my campus comprise not only Town and Gown but also Uniform.
Interested in community and law enforcement interactions? Be on the lookout for our release of Targeting Discretion this January!