Marquette Likely to Get Its Own Police Force
Bill would give MU police the power to arrest on and off campus, and pursue criminals anywhere in the state.
A rare bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate and Assembly on February 17th to give police powers to the Marquette University campus security forces. The proposals outlined in 2013 SB 610 would give the Jesuit University’s Department of Public Safety authority comparable to that of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Police Department, or, indeed of the Milwaukee Police Department itself. The Jesuits have the papacy, and now they want a police department.
Under the bill, “Marquette University police officers [would] have the same powers as Milwaukee law enforcement officers to maintain order, detect and prevent crime, enforce laws and ordinances, and make arrests for violations of laws and ordinances.” Police officers must meet training and certification standards. The university must take out liability insurance and provide written policies. Certified police would be considered “peace officers” for purposes of the Criminal Code and the university would be subject to certain public records requirements.
Currently, Marquette has a public safety staff of 80 professional and 100 student members. By contrast, UWM has 43 full-time police and 35 security officers. According to the text of the bill, “The university may enter into an agreement with the attorney general and the city of Milwaukee to establish a university police department and employ university police officers for the purposes of maintaining public order, detecting and preventing crime, and enforcing state laws and local ordinances on the grounds of the university and in adjacent areas.” [Emphasis added.]
For purposes of civil and criminal liability, a university police officer may, when in fresh pursuit, follow anywhere in the state and arrest any person for violation of the laws of this state.”
There has been a long-standing perception that the central city Marquette campus has a disproportionate amount of crime, especially contrasted with UWM’s leafy East Side precincts. In 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, Marquette had seven sexual assaults, 13 burglaries, seven aggravated assaults, 35 drug and 15 liquor cases referred for prosecution. The university administratively handled over 800 drug and alcohol cases involving students, so it is clear that the vast majority of campus security responses are handled in-house and would not require the police powers. The university has 11,700 students.
The measure is not about guns, since the Marquette campus force is armed at this time. It appears the Milwaukee Police Department would benefit from this arrangement by having the assistance of MU police to coordinate crime-fighting efforts in the neighborhood. The Marquette campus, although centrally located, is somewhat disjointed and has more community interaction and traffic than the relatively compact and isolated UWM campus — just a lot more non-university people going back and forth. Marquette has some 80 buildings located between W. Clybourn St. and W. Kilbourn Ave. and between N. 9th and N. 20th streets, with dozens of street intersections. [The administration failed to have W. Wisconsin Ave. closed to traffic at one time.] By contrast, there is only one street intersection within the UWM campus.
Richards Calls for Criminalizing First Time Drunk Driving Offenses
Rep. Jon Richards, running for Attorney General, has called for laws to criminalize first-time drunk driving offenses. Currently Wisconsin is the only state in America that handles first offenses in Municipal Court.
First-offense cases in the City of Milwaukee Municipal Court numbered 950 in 2013, according to city statistics. The city collects a fine of from $100 – $200 for each conviction that it is able to keep in the municipal treasury. A surcharge of about $400 is added to all drunk driving convictions, split more or less equally between the state and the treasurer of the county where the offense occurred.
The precise number of convictions for drunk driving in the city’s municipal court was not easily accessible, but defendants rarely win, and it’s safe to say that first offenses bring more than $150,000 to the city’s treasury each year. Since there are about 20,000 first offenses in Wisconsin, this is a considerable amount of revenue that would no longer flow to municipal coffers.
I asked Curt Witynski, Assistant Director League of Wisconsin Municipalities if his group had taken a position on Richards’ proposal. He said the group had not.
Richards stand is a bold one, in a state known for binge drinking and a less-punitive attitude toward drunk driving. It could make the Democrat the tough-on-crime candidate in this race (Republican Brad Schimel has said he opposes such a measure), but is this the sort of crime the average Wisconsin voter wants to get tough on? We’ll see.