If you’ve got a son or daughter attending college, how confident are you that they’re safe on campus?

Some New Jersey universities have armed police forces, including Rutgers, NJIT, Rowan, Stockton, Saint Peter’s and Monmouth, while others, including Seton Hall, Rider, Drew, Thomas Edison State College, Jersey City University, Fairleigh Dickinson and most community colleges do not.

Princeton University recently announced their campus police will soon have access to guns — in their patrol cars — but they won't normally be carrying weapons around campus.

“It’s based actually on the kind of issues the police face, in the general case, enforcing the law on campuses doesn’t require being armed,” says Todd Clear, a criminal justice professor at Rutgers University.

Clear said sworn officers on college campuses go through the same training at certified academies as any other police officer in the Garden State.

“They get trained on the law but they get trained on the most recent ideas about police practices and they get assessed in terms of their physical abilities,” he said.

The professor also says sworn university police usually only have jurisdiction on their campuses, but in cities like Newark, NJIT and Rutgers police will also work in areas off-campus and they can make arrests.

He said in most situations, campus and municipal police work together.

“There’s always close cooperation and there’s often-times quite close involvement operationally,” Clear said.

He also said most schools, in addition to having a regular police force, also have community safety officers.

“They don’t carry guns and they don’t generally make arrests, and they don’t generally engage in any kind of risk related conduct,” Clear said. “Typically they’ll direct traffic, respond to conflicts in the classroom, and they escort people from place to place.”

So what happens if there’s a major emergency?

Clear says every scenario will have a different protocol campus police will follow, but if there’s an active shooter situation, “they will immediately call for backup but they will immediately go to the situation, what police leadership has to do is to be able to quickly understand what the nature of the emergency is.”

He also said campuses are unique policing situations since they’re usually much more contained than cities. In addition, the residents tend to be younger than the range of people in a city.

“This means the quality of the interactions between the residents, the students and the faculty and the police officers is very important to producing a sense of safety but also confidence in the general public environment," he said. “Active problem solving is especially important for police on campus because usually the people who are involved in some sort of dispute are all members of a community who are going to live together for quite a while.”

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