Dec. 08, 2014
Campus police could soon be expanding their relationship with local police, playing a greater role in local law enforcement.
A plan to redefine the existing intergovernmental agreement between the UCCS Police Department and Colorado Springs Police Department is in the final review process. Pending approval from Colorado Springs City Council, it could go into effect as early as next year.
The plan calls for an increase in both UCCS PD’s jurisdiction and ability to enforce municipal codes, and is an expansion of the 2004 agreement.
“It was worked out so that our officers would have access to surrounding areas to help CSPD and to be good neighbors since our university is expanding,” said Brian McPike, UCCS chief of police, of both the original IGA and proposed update.
McPike indicated CSPD will remain the primary enforcement agency regardless of an enlarged UCCS PD jurisdiction.
Much of the reason for the expanded IGA is due to the increasing number of UCCS students.
“Within those enforcement boundaries, many of those things our campus police are responding to are involving students,” said Susan Szpyrka, vice chancellor for Administration and Finance. Szpyrka was the UCCS Chief of Police when the original IGA was created.
While UCCS PD already has jurisdiction in areas surrounding the campus, per the new agreement, their authority would stretch roughly from Dublin Blvd. down to East Fillmore St.
McPike was unwilling to give the exact expanded area until the deal is finalized. But he indicated the new area will likely include the apartments near the north Academy and Union intersection and The Lodges, north of University Village.
“It already makes sense we would be able to respond up there, which we’ve already done, but in an official capacity now,” he said of The Lodges.
Along with increased areas of operation, the expanded IGA will enable campus police to enforce all city laws. Currently, UCCS PD can enforce five municipal codes, plus traffic codes, which pertain to weapons, alcohol and other banned substances.
“It’s taking our little bit of enforcement authority, traffic and certain statutes, and giving us [CSPD’s] entire municipal code, and that’s substantial,” said McPike. He indicated this change will likely have little effect on campus.
“We’re going to use the same guidelines we have in the past.”
But off-campus, a student stopped by UCCS PD will be subject to any city statutes, similar to if they were stopped by a member of the CSPD.
Depending on their offense, students stopped by UCCS officers off-campus can be subject to university disciplinary action in addition to other legal charges.
While the new agreement will call UCCS PD to respond to a larger area, the department will not be receiving any additional funding from the city.
“I don’t look at it as a tradeoff, I look at it as an investment,” said McPike. “If anything ever happens on the campus up here, we’re going to draw considerable resources from the Colorado Springs Police Department.”
He said the university already relies heavily on the Colorado Springs Fire Department for routine calls and fire system maintenance.
“If we can assist [CSPD] and we have the ability to, that’s great,” said McPike. “But they fully understand that we are a small department, and our resources are finite.”
Despite the lack of monetary compensation written into the plan, Szpyrka feels there are benefits for the university.
“We find the IGA important in terms of actually bringing resources to the campus in ways we couldn’t do independently,” said Szpyrka.
McPike indicated combined training between the two departments would be a collaborative aspect of the agreement.
“It instills that confidence in the officers,” he said. “The more you work together, the more you train together, the better your relationship is.”
McPike addressed concerns an expanded IGA would mean campus police responding to events away from the university, leaving it short staffed.
“It is written into the agreement that this is on as available basis,” said McPike. “Our officers know this is their home turf, this is our little city inside the city.”
“They’re dedicated to the university always, and that’s first and foremost our responsibility. The city has a very clear understanding of that. ”
After approval by UCCS administration, the expanded IGA will be presented to the Colorado Springs City Council by CSPD Chief of Police Pete Carey for a vote.
McPike expects the process to be complete some time next January.