WMU News

WMU moves to swear in own public safety officers

Dec. 9, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- At their Dec. 7 meeting, Western Michigan University trustees took the first step toward allowing the University to swear in its own public safety officers.

Members of the Board of Trustees held a public hearing and scheduled a second one to discuss the powers and authority of WMU's public safety officers. A 1990 state law allows four-year public universities to grant law enforcement powers to their own officers. WMU officers are currently sworn in by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department, which gives them the same power and authority as other Kalamazoo County deputy sheriffs. University officials asked trustees to consider allowing the University to grant its own powers and authority, which allow WMU public safety officers to act independently, if needed, on any University property throughout the state, including WMU's campuses in other communities. The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, known as MCOLES, is urging all Michigan universities to so empower their officers.

"WMU is increasing in size, complexity and presence in many parts of the state," said Robert M. Beam, WMU vice president for business and finance. "This change would allow the University to better protect all of its properties and the rights of all Western Michigan students and employees on any of our campuses throughout the state."

Beam noted that there are currently no plans to station WMU public safety officers at any of the University's branch campuses.

In keeping with the Public Safety Officers Act, the Dec. 7 Board of Trustees meeting served as the first of two required public hearings on the matter. Trustees scheduled the second public hearing to take place at their next regular meeting, currently set for Thursday, Jan. 24, and discussed the establishment of a public safety oversight committee, which is also required by the act.

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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