Do the Police Take It Too Far?

Lucinda Albers

Lucinda Albers

In one way or another, most students have run into the University Police Department, Brookings Police Department or any other type of police officer from their hometowns. But in that process, several questions may arise. Do they always do what’s legal? How far can they really take it? And how much does it really affect the students?

The Actions

So how do students react to how they are treated?

A sophomore from Hansen Hall was caught in his room a few nights ago.

“We were all just sitting in the dorm rooms when UPD knocked on our door and gave us all breathalizers,” he says.

He says they had about six people in the room, and all but he were sleeping when the officers arrived on a noise complaint.

“There were more people in the room, probably around 11 or so,” he says.

The room had been empty for some time by the time officers had arrived. Everyone in the room was given a minor.

Leslie Rumpza, a sophomore nursing major, agrees that sometimes UPD officers can go a little overboard.

“They are somewhat strict,” Rumpza says.

But then again, many students don’t actually get caught, but hear stories from other people.

“I’ve never seen it first hand, I guess,” says Britney Cooper, a sophomore nursing major. “I’ve always heard stories.”

When you compare SDSU’s Police Department to other schools, it seems that other students have it a lot easier.

“I went down to Vermillion and they were ten times better down there,” says Rumpza.

In the end, it is up to you to make your own dexicion onthe police department and their role on campus.

Whether you love this article or hate it, just remember that actions speak louder than words. No matter what is said within this article, it is nothing compared to personal experience.

The Words has a group named “I Hate Brookings Police” which, at press time, contained 610 SDSU students.

The message board allows students to complain about a variety of different stories, from traffic violations to busted parties.

Recently, Michael Kilber, a University Police Department officer, has been posting several comments to students’ stories and questions.

“The Chief of Police wanted someone to be here to offer accurate information and be able to answer questions or respond to comments with facts,” he writes.

Kilber’s responses have caused quite a stir on the site. Many members are grateful for the comments, but others believe UPD’s comments are unwelcome and merely a ploy.

“I don’t yearn for confrontation,” writes Kilber. “As a police officer, I yearn to educate people of the reality of life and the responsibility that each of us have as a member of society.”

Kilber states on the message board that UPD hasn’t actually given out that many minors.

“The SDSU Police Department only writes about 325 underage consumptions per calendar year out of the approximate 7,500 registered students under the age of 21. That is about 4.3%. (The Brookings Police Department and Brookings County Sheriff’s Office have similar arrest rates.) This group [at the time this message was posted] had more than 470 members, so chances are only 20-21 of [those members] will be arrested by the SDSU Police Department this year for underage consumption. That is presuming that all 470+ members are under the age of 21.”

So do police officers really care about SDSU students, or are they merely doing their job?

“If an entire group is behaving responsibly then they should be allowed to continue,” says Kilber. “But as a matter of law, house parties only get busted when reasonable suspicion leads to probable cause, and that always requires that someone is acting irresponsibly.”

How you are treated often depends on who catches you.

On the board, Kilber mentions letting people go with a warning and being generally nice.

But, as an officer, he has one main responsibility.

“I am responsible for enforcing the law and protecting people,” says Kilber.

The Rules

South Dakota Laws

In South Dakota, you are able to get a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated). You can receive a DUI from alcohol, illicit and illegal drugs, marijuana or a combination of them. DWI is usually more alcohol specific.

Fleeing a car or a party can seem like a good idea, but could cause some serious jail time. Running could actually land you in jail or a large fine that could empty your wallet ? and your savings account.

Residential Life

The Residential Life Policy states (under the South Dakota Board of Regents) that the members of staff are held responsible to “directly confront” the students’ reckless acts when needed. It also says all staff must act as witnesses to cases where they are needed, or where governments have “failed to exercise their self-government obligations to the University or civil authorities.”

It also states that the University staff is responsible for planning and implementing activities that create healthy activity options for students.

The Difference Between UPD and BPD

As far as a difference between the University Police Department and Brookings Police Department, BPD Officer Mark Whaley says not much of a difference exists.

As far as jurisdiction, BPD has about the same rights as UPD.

“We’re cross-deputized,” Whaley says. “We went to City Hall and swore in, and it basically just means that we can work outside of the city lawfully.”

If any department needs help from others, it can call on separate departments to help.

“We all work together and can go anywhere in the county if they need help,” Whaley says.