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February 02, 2006 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-02

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Amor- A -- --201r-

DEPARTMENT OF
EPA EN F

PUBL tICe

S A F E T Y
I ET
By Anne VanderMey
Daily News Editor
t was a difficult day for University
president James Duderstadt. Just
after lunch, 45 student activists
marched into his office and refused
to leave until their demands were
met. Later that night, hundreds more
gathered in the plaza outside the
Fleming Administration Building carrying can-
dles and banners.

Last year, DPS cited 618 people for
use or possession of an illegal sub-
stance, a threefold increase since the
department was first deputized. But
does DPS actually spend all its time
babysitting students who choose to
drink or smoke? Probably not. Still,
it's undeniable that over the years
DPS has tightened its restrictions
on the campus community.
Freedom and protection
f Duderstadt could retrace his
steps in 1990, when he intro-
duced the idea of a University
police force to the Regents, he
would have handled things slightly
differently, he said.
"I would have done it earlier," he
told the Statement in a phone inter-
view.
The need for a specialized campus
police force is clear to Duderstadt,
mostly because it puts the needs of
University faculty, staff and stu-
dents before those of city residents.
"We ran into situations when we
would need help from the city, and
they decided it wasn't their prior-
ity," Duderstadt said. "Furthermore,
we'd run into situations earlier
where the kind of protests we would
be inclined to respect on campus
were not treated quite as kindly by
the Washtenaw Sheriff's Depart-
ment."
But the idea that more police will
mean more freedom isn't palatable
to everyone.
Eric Lipson, an Ann Arbor attor-
ney, said he is not convinced that
the administration was acting in the
best interests of students when it
deputized DPS.
"It's just another way for the
administration to keep their
thumb on student behavior,"
Lipson said. "It's just more police,
that's what it is."
Lipson has lived in Ann Arbor
for most of his life. For years, he
worked as an attorney for Student
Legal Services, which provides
legal counseling and representation
to students nearly free of charge.
Lipson added that he believes the
recent nearly 30-percent drop in lar-
cenies is more the result of improved
technology than policing prowess.
DPS has acquired a reputation with
some for being less focused on safe-
ty and more focused on handing out
tickets. And even as the crime rate

falls; the total number of arrests on
campus continues to rise; the annual
arrest tally increased by 483 in just
six years. In 1999, it was 702. Last
year it was 1,185.
Business senior Michael Brack-
ney said he is put off by reports of
assault and harassment on campus.
"Where's DPS when that's going
down?" he said. "They're out writ-
ing stupid citations."

regulations, but when it acquired its
own police force with its own set
of officers, all University property
went from being under the jurisdic-
tion of AAPD to DPS and all city
laws reverted back to state law.
The University has since put its
own ordinances in place, but they
all impose additional restrictions. If
anything, they make state law more
cumbersome.

,They're not wannabe police officers.
They're here because they want
to be University police officers.
-William Bess
Director of DPS

ultimately lie with the Regents, but
nevertheless, - DPS officers often
take the heat for the tough laws they
are sworn to uphold.
DPS sergeant Garry Hicks said
his greatest challenge is forging
relationships with students.
Hicks, the coordinator of DPS's
bicycle support team, is known
affectionately within the department
as "cute." He stands two heads taller

A bad rap
f DPS officers seem harsher
than city officers, it's probably
because they are. The city of Ann
Arbor has made amendments to
its laws according to the general
sentiments of the community. For
example, the $25 marijuana fine
imposed on city residents is much
more lenient than state law, which
dictates a $500 fine. Until 1990, the
University operated under the same

Additionally, some DPS poli-
cies are different than those of
the AAPD. Where AAPD will not
require a pedestrian to take a breath-
alyzer test, DPS will level a $100
fine against anyone on the street
who refuses to submit to a test.
The enforcers
trol over policies such as
breathalyzer tests and Uni-
versity ordinances, which

a normal person. He was hired on as
a officer in 1991, when the budding
police department was beginning to
recruit certified police officers to
its ranks.
In the wake of the protests, Hicks
said he had to overcome a lot of mis-
trust within the student body.
"When I first got here we were the
new kids on the block," he said.
He added students adapted to
police presence fairly smoothly. In
the end, Hicks said students were
the reason he stayed in Ann Arbor.

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During the past ten years, the role of campus police
officers has drastically changed.

Led by then-MSA president Jennifer
Van Valey, the students decided to leave
Fleming and march down South Universi-
ty Street to Duderstadt's house. The group,
nearly 600 strong, banged on the door and
rang the bell of the big white house, hop-
ing to present their demands to Duderstadt
in person. When he didn't come out, they
chanted warnings that he couldn't avoid
them forever.
If Duderstadt didn't get much sleep that
night, the protestors in his office got even
less. After seven hours of occupation,
Public Safety Officer David Russell made
sure students were uncomfortable by keep-
ing the temperature in the building low,
switching on the office lights, and turning
up his police radio to full volume.
At 5 p.m. the next day, students' demands
for negotiations with administrators
were still unmet. Twenty-one protestors

remained in the office when Leo Heatley,
then-Director of the Department of Pub-
lic safety, finally addressed the group. He
declared the building closed and read them
trespass rights. The 16 students who linked
arms and refused to leave were arrested.
What cause did these students deem
worthy of risking a misdemeanor charge?
It wasn't a war, or gender biases. It wasn't
even racial discrimination.
Students were protesting the deputiza-
tion of the Department of Public Safety.
The beginning
PS officers haven't always car-
ried guns. Prior to the summer of
1990, the entire DPS police force
consisted of just a few of secu-
rity guards. On Aug. 22 of that year, the
University Board of Regents voted 8-1

to "deputize" DPS, transforming it from
a group of civilians into an independent
police force - separate from both the Ann
Arbor Police Department and the State
troopers.
The creation of the department sparked
widespread panic on campus. Many of the
students and faculty members feared that
the fledgling force would dedicate itself
solely to squelching student activism and
over-zealously enforcing drug laws. Three
months after the decision, an ongoing cam-
pus effort to get Regents to rescind DPS's
status climaxed in the 26-hour sit-in at
Fleming, but fizzled out shortly after.
The situation foretold by the original
protestors wasn't entirely fantasy. Com-
plaints that officers give out too many tick-
ets and solve too few crimes are familiar to
most police departments. The University's
is no exception.

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