Jurisdiction issues, cost lead to difference in Pew and Allendale campus security

By Austin Metz | 9/30/12 1:48pm

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GVPD Minh Lien

by Kate Kaurich / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Due to jurisdiction differences and the overall cost of starting a new police department, the Grand Valley Police Department will continue to cover the Allendale Campus while security officers will focus on the Pew Campus.

Capt. Brandon DeHaan, assistant director of GVPD said it also makes sense to keep it the way it is when comparing the overall amount of crime on the two campuses.

“The downtown campus has identified that there would be security officers that would work there,” DeHaan said. “The main reason to this is that the crime statistics are very low downtown. The question becomes, if there is not that much crime, does it really need the services?”

GVPD breaks down each crime that happens on campus in their annual crime rates and statistics report. According to the report, in 2010 there were 554 reported crimes on the Allendale Campus. During that same year, there were 27 crimes reported at the Pew Campus. The numbers for 2011 are very similar with 561 crimes in Allendale compared to 23 crimes at the Pew Campus.

In the report, it showed that the majority of incidents are larceny or drug and alcohol-related issues with very few being emergency cases.

If there are emergency instances on the Pew Campus that need a sworn officer’s attention, Russell Wolff, director of the Pew Campus Security and Regional Centers, said the hope is that students would call 911.

“If it is a non-emergency, say a larceny of a bike, we will provide a report,” Wolff said. “We encourage (the victim) to contact the Grand Rapids Police Department and file a report. If a report is filed, we will then do what we can to assist in any way.”

Also, since the Pew Campus falls in the Grand Rapids Police Department jurisdiction, upgrading to a police force would not be cost efficient, Wolff said.

“I cannot enforce any laws in the state unless I am sworn in by the state,” Wolff said. “(To do that) there would have to be sworn department training through the state of Michigan. We would have to be certified through them, there would be the cost issues, and jurisdiction issues because we are in Kent County rather than in Ottawa County.”

The jurisdiction issues that arise are because the Allendale Campus resides in Ottawa County and the Pew Campus is in Kent County.

“When you deal in different communities, there are different jurisdictions,” Wolff said. “When the Grand Valley Police Department writes a ticket, it is prosecuted in Ottawa County and then tried in Ottawa County. For the Pew Campus, we would have the trial in Kent County and they would stay in the Kent County jail.”

That means that the GVPD would be unable to act in Kent County because it is not in their jurisdiction. For the Pew Campus to have its own force, they would have to become sworn in by Kent County.

Although jurisdiction is an issue, another reason for the differing security measures is the amount of students that live on and around each campus.

“When you talk about the Allendale Campus, you have the campus and the surrounding housing communities,” DeHaan said. At the Allendale campus, there are close to 5,100 beds on the actual campus with between 5,000 and 7,000 beds immediately off the campus. At the Pew Campus, there are 170 beds on the campus.

Although there are houses near the Pew Campus that house students, DeHaan said they are more sporadic and the student body is not as concentrated as it is around the Allendale Campus. This high concentration of students can make it difficult for the GVPD to cover alone so the relationship they have with the Ottawa County Sheriff Department helps better control the area.

At the Allendale Campus, GVPD not only keeps watch of the campus and the surrounding area, they also work with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s department to better serve the people of Ottawa County.

“As law enforcement officers, we are sworn to cover the campus but also sworn as Ottawa County Sheriff staff,” DeHaan said, explaining that because of this, the GVPD and the Ottawa Sheriff’s department work hand in hand to help with different cases.

“We have cars assigned to the Allendale area but if they are tied up with another case, our dispatch will call the GVPD to assist,” said Ottawa County Sheriff Gary A. Rosema. “Once one of our deputies is free, they will then come to the scene.”

The relationship between the GVPD and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s department goes back six to eight years, Rosema said, and explained that it happened when the GVPD broke away from the sheriff’s department.

“We have a mutual agreement with the GVPD so it is not uncommon for it to be a weekly occurrence that we work with the GVPD,” Rosema said. “But, we are sensitive that we don’t want to draw them away from the Allendale campus just like they are to not draw us away from our cases.”

Although the difference in security between the two campuses will continue, with help from outside police forces, GVSU will provide a safe environment for students and faculty alike.

For more information and a more in-depth look at the crime statistics at the different campuses, visit http://www.gvsu.edu/gvpd/crime-rates-and-statistics-47.htm.

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