Crime stoppers: BPD and SDSUPD team up against crime

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The South Dakota State University Police Department and the Brookings Police Department may both in charge of enforcing the law, but they each play their own roles in Brookings. The two police departments have different duties but come together in certain circumstances.

The Brookings Police Department and the SDSUPD patrol their own areas. SDSUPD primarily patrols campus while BPD works within the town, according to Jeff Miller, chief of police for Brookings.

“There will be circumstances where we ask SDSUPD for their help, for example escorts, accidents, traffic controls, house parties and serious incidents,” Miller said.

For Hobo Day, the Brookings Police is fully staffed with 44 officers and no one has the day off, Miller said.

“We gear up every year for Hobo Day, we want to be proactive,” Miller said.

According to Miller, everything is relatively quiet during the Hobo Day football game. In addition to patrolling in their vehicles, officers also do foot patrols in the neighborhoods and downtown. The BPD tries to warn renters hosting large house parties that the police are watching things. They also tell renters how to keep themselves out of trouble, Miller said.

“I think this action has worked well over the years because we are being proactive instead of waiting for things to happen,” Miller said. “And I think the students appreciate it and are more willing to work with us.”

The SDSUPD has a slightly different role than BPD because SDSUPD patrols around campus, said Tim Heaton, chief of university police. 

“We are certified for the city but the campus is our responsibility,” Heaton said.

After checking out equipment for the day, SDSUPD officers start their patrol. They begin by driving around campus and responding to calls that come in. At different times of the day they check different buildings and doors on campus, Heaton said. They deal with DUIs, underage consumption, speeding and assaults on campus.

Brookings needs both the BPD and the SDSUPD because the students on campus need police to make sure they are safe. The Brookings Police is there to protect the city while SDSUPD is there to protect campus, Heaton said.

The SDSUPD has jurisdiction over the campus but if BPD calls them for help they will go, and vice versa, Heaton said.

According to Heaton, all 14 officers on campus will work Hobo Day weekend, just like BPD.

“It is a busy weekend,” Heaton said. “And schedules get crazy.”

Julie Yingling, a criminal justice professor on campus, said SDSU has a minor in criminal justice for students who are interested in that field.

“I encourage students to do student patrol, internships and ride alongs,” Yingling said. “Some officers even speak during our courses and are eager to work with students.”

Each spring Brookings Police offers a Citizen’s Academy for students to attend for service learning credit. It is a 10-week program where residents in Brookings and students can take the course and learn the basics of policing, Yingling said. If students want to be more involved in criminal justice, SDSU has a criminal justice club students have the opportunity to participate in. To become a member of the criminal justice club, a student can attend the meetings whenever they want and there is a one time fee of $5 to join, according to Yingling.

“Students get a good experience of what the career actually involves,” Yingling said.