Letter to the editor: ISU Police should stay on campus

Robert Bender

In Finals Week, I pulled an all-nighter at the Memorial Union cramming for a Friday final. As the sun was rising, I packed up my books and walked out to my car which was parked next to Lake LaVerne. I would soon be heading out of town, and my car was packed with several of my belongings. As I approached my vehicle, I discovered that my window was broken, and my beloved PS3 had been stolen. This was a well lit area on the main part of campus. This must have been a brave criminal since the ISU Police department says that they have 13 officers on patrol each shift.

Where were all these ISU police officers? A week later I found out where they probably were, off campus enforcing traffic laws.

I was half a mile away from the nearest ISU property when I was pulled over by an ISU patrol car for an alleged minor traffic violation. Two more ISU patrol cars quickly arrived. I had not been drinking, but since I am a college student, and it was just past closing time for the bars, they decided to give me a field sobriety test. I passed, despite three flashlights constantly in my eyes, and blew a 0.00 on the Breathalyzer. They appeared disappointed and took a full 30 minutes to write me a traffic ticket and send me on my way.

Apparently since the campus had recently gone quiet for the summer, these patrolman got especially bored and ventured out to look for something more exciting to do, like catching a drunk driver or, in this case, harassing a sober one.

The city of Ames has its own police department. It is paid for with public funds and supervised by publicly elected officials. In contrast, Iowa State receives a huge amount of private funds, and no ISU employees are publicly elected officials. They are just private citizens who have hired a private police force to protect private property. We need this security team to keep our campus safe. According to their website, ISU police officers have authority “in matters involving Iowa State University.”

Why is it any of Iowa State’s business how I drive when I’m off campus?

If it’s OK for a private police force to go off and patrol the entire city, then perhaps someone should hire a few of their own officers and instruct them to focus solely on following the ISU patrol cars around to ticket them for their frequent traffic violations.

No one would complain about ISU patrolmen staying within the campus boundaries. However, if they continue to venture off campus, then every time a crime occurs on campus, we’ll have to wonder if it could have been prevented had these ISU employees stayed where they belong.