Greater collaboration between campus and local police departments is needed when investigating major crimes at Virginia colleges, a Virginia State Crime Commission panel concluded.
At a meeting earlier today, the commission agreed to explore possible legislation that would mandate “mutual aid agreements” between jurisdictions.
The discussion addressed the debate surrounding House Bill 2490, which was introduced in January by Del. Paula J. Miller, D-Norfolk. As originally worded, the proposal would have required campus police to hand over responsibility of on-campus death or rape investigations to local law enforcement.
Those in favor of the bill included victims or parents of the victims of serious crimes that occurred at Virginia colleges. They argued that their cases were not handled properly by campus police, and feared that college administrators were more concerned about maintaining image than they were about prosecuting felonies.
Campus police officers opposed the measure, arguing they were as equally trained and experienced as local police. They expressed concern that the proposed law would undermine the credibility of their police force, thus hindering future recruiting efforts.
At today’s discussion, Miller introduced a revised proposal, which was re-worded to emphasize joint collaboration between campus and local law enforcement.
Opponents to the original legislation appeared to support the bill’s new language. Some campus officers stated that their department had mutual aid agreements with local police already in place.
The commission will revisit the issue during a Dec. 6 meeting and forward any recommendations to the General Assembly.
– Sarah Rodriguez