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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Unarmed guards can’t cite students

security
By Jessikha Williams / New Mexico Daily Lobo

UNM police vehicle parked in front of the UNM Police Station.

With the addition of Lobo Village, the UNM Police Department didn’t hire any additional officers.

Instead, Lobo Village hired a squad of security guards through a contract with the private company JLS Security and Investigations, Inc.

But JLS officers cannot make arrests, issue citations or write police reports, and they rely on UNMPD to deal with crime that occurs in Lobo Village.

UNMPD spokesman Lt. Robert Haarhues said JLS Security and UNM Security can’t enforce the law.

“Security guards are unarmed and can’t issue arrests, citations or police reports,” he said “In fact, we actually advise them not to get involved and just wait until the police arrive.”

UNMPD has 39 police officers on staff, six non-police security officers and three student patrollers to keep watch over campus, Haarhues said. Up to four JLS security officers patrol Lobo Village at any given time, according to police reports.

UNM has about 29,000 students on main campus, about 2,200 of which live on campus, according to Lobo Development and the Office of Institutional Research. Lobo Village, which counts as on-campus living, added 864 beds to campus last year.

Compared to its peers, UNMPD is both under- and over-staffed.

UNM’s police and security presence is larger than Boise State, which has close to 20,000 students, about 2,000 of whom live in university-owned housing. The school has only seven police officers, four civilian officers and 12-15 security administrators who work on campus.

But UNM has fewer officers than the University of Utah, which has more than 31,000 students, only 3,000 of whom live on campus. Utah has 35 police officers and 55 security officers. UNM also has proportionally fewer officers than the University of Arizona, which has about 39,000 students, 7,000 of whom live on campus. The school has 57 police officers, 16 civilian aids and seven student patrollers. (All numbers according to respective university police departments.)

Haarhues said the number of security and police officers on UNM’s campus is adequate to keep students safe.

“We were adequately staffed and didn’t need to hire more officers,” he said. “The security guards at Lobo Village take care of small issues like telling students to turn down their music if it’s too loud in their rooms or at the pool, and if there is anything serious they will notify us.”

Haarhues said security deals primarily with tasks including maintenance of the emergency blue phones, paperwork and parking operations for on-campus events.

Haarhues said the biggest problem UNMPD and UNM Security face on campus is dealing with theft.

“Because UNM is an open campus, we have a lot of people walking onto campus who are not studying here,” he said. “Students should always have a close tab on their belongings.”

Haarhues said barring theft, campus is fairly safe as long as students are aware of their surroundings. If students find themselves in a situation where they need somebody to escort them across campus, there is a hotline number on the back of every student’s LoboCard that can be used to call one of the dispatchers at UNMPD.

“My advice to students is to be knowledgeable about all the different resources and services available to them on campus,” Haarhues said. “If students are uncomfortable walking across campus late at night, then they probably should be. They should go with their gut feeling. They should never feel afraid to call us — that is what we are here for.”