Law enforcement militarized... On College Campuses!

August 22nd 2014

Adam Rotstein

Tensions in Missouri have brought heightened police armament into the public eye once again. But these trends of militarization are not just reserved to our police departments. 

The past few years has seen a growing presence of weapons, artillery, and SWAT tactics used to police our college campuses. According to The Columbus Dispatch, The Ohio State University even procured a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle in 2013. Go Buckeyes. 

Most of us picture college cops breaking up Frat parties after curfew and dishing out parking tickets around campus. It seems that college police departments have seriously stepped up their game. According to federal data, nine out of ten public colleges employ sworn, armed police officers with the authorization to use deadly force if need be.   

In 2011, campus police officers at UC Davis infamously broke up “Occupy Wall Street” protesters in full riot gear, attacking seated students with chemical agents. (About 9 in 10 campus agencies also authorize sworn officers to carry pepper spray, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics).  This past year, a campus officer fatally shot a student at the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio. These aggressions raise several questions. What are the new threats that warrant these weapons on campus and what kind of culture do they create?

Randy Balko, the author of Rise of the Warrior Cop, questions the need for a paramilitary presence on campus, even in the wake of several college shootings. “Schools and police officials will cite Virginia Tech or Columbine as a reason for needing SWAT teams or armored vehicles but the average campus can expect to see a homicide once every several thousand years,” he told the College Fix. Similarly, research from the University of Virginia indicates that “the average college can expect to experience a murder on campus about once every 265 years”

Our college freshmen are still drinking illegally and booking it when campus safety shows up to the frat house. But if we’re not careful, the freshmen of the future may be trailed across the football field with the red dot of a sniper.


The MRAP at Ohio State University

The Ohio State University even procured a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle in 2013