Is JMU’s campus police really on top of things?

We asked students to tell us what they think of our local boys and girls in blue

Recently, there has been some discussion about the effectiveness of JMU Campus Police. In the past month, there have been a few incidents of intruders and Peeping Toms that students feel Campus Police may not have handled effectively. So we decided to poll JMU students and see what they thought.

The JMU Campus Police operate under the Jeanne Clery Act, which requires them to notify students of all crimes and criminal activity on campus with either a Timely Warning or Emergency Notification. They are also required to put it in a publicly available Daily Crime Log. The Clery act does not define “timely” in its paperwork, mostly because different crimes have different levels of severity. For the purposes of our poll, we defined “timely” as “within three days of the incident”, as most Timely Warnings are sent out within that timeframe.

Let’s see what Dukes had to say.

They are great at trying to help students get out of situations they’ve put themselves in, but if a student doesn’t respond positively to this, they get quite hostile”. -Anonymous, Sophomore

“They’re rather quick to respond, but it seems that they do simply because it’s protocol. If they can sweep something under the rug, they will.” – Anonymous, Junior

Here’s a rundown of who answered our poll:

33.3% of responses were from sophomores, 21.4% from juniors, 21.4% from freshmen, 19% from seniors, and 4% from faculty.

Generated using Google Forms

“The police always call if the emergency button in an elevator is pressed, but then they’re late to pre-planned fire drills.” – Anonymous, Sophomore

“There are two blue lights on campus that are not working. I’ve tried reporting them for two weeks and they have done nothing.” – Anonymous, Sophomore

It seems like the students who haven’t had to rely on Campus Police like them the most.

50% "I've never had to call campus police, but they seem to be on top of things", 21.4% "I've never had to call campus police, but they don't really seem to have a handle on things" 16.7% Yes, they've responded swiftly to me in the past and sent out an alert in a few days" >4% "other", >4% "no, they've not investigated everythwere I've asked them to"

Generated using Google Forms

 “I’ve literally never even seen the Campus Police. I’ve only ever seen the Harrisonburg Police.” – Beverly, Sophomore

“I was walking home from work one night and was so scared because it was late and called the campus police and an officer was there within five minutes to drive me home.” – Angelina, Freshman

“Half the time they don’t send [an alert] and if they do, it is way after the threat or event took place.” – Jenny, Junior

And are “Timely Notices” really all that timely? JMU students don’t think to seem so.

50% think Timely Notices should be sent out sooner. 38.1% believe it's fine. 11.9% say other.

Generated using Google Forms

And we got a lot more stories about students’ experiences with Campus Police:

“Once, a campus police officer accused me of running a stop sign on campus. However, this was not the case (I even let someone cross the road during my stop). He firmly believed that he had seen me run the stop sign, coerced me into saying that I did, and let me off with a warning.” – Anonymous, Senior

“I have talked to five different campus police on many occasions this past school year. They are very friendly and just want to keep students safe. They are not ‘out to get’ anybody and they are really passionate about their job.” – Allyson, Sophomore

“I was sober driving once and got yelled at because I was sitting waiting to pick up someone on the sorority row. They acted like I was stupid and said they’d give me a ticket if I didn’t move my car asap, even though the girls were walking to my car. I told him they were coming and pointed to them, but he didn’t care and made me drive to the top of srat row.” – Anonymous, Junior

“Notices are always timely. They even send community notices that aren’t required by law. When it seems there’s an inordinate delay, it’s because HPD received a report of a crime and never informed JMU police.” – Anonymous, Faculty

“I think they are focused on the wrong things (i.e. students having safe fun over genuine threats to the JMU population.)” – Anonymous, Freshman.

“A few weeks ago, there was a Peeping Tom who purposely intimidated me and then tried to get into my dorm. My boyfriend and I called Campus Police, and they said they would investigate. We never saw a cop car come anywhere near our building. When we called them back a half hour later, they said they’d investigated thoroughly and hadn’t found him. So thoroughly we never saw you, huh? Then they didn’t put it on the crime log and didn’t send out an alert. I can only imagine how many other similar incidents they’ve ignored because THEY didn’t deem it dangerous enough.” -Anonymous, Sophomore

So what do you think? Are JMU Campus Police on top of things? Do you think they’re “out to get” anyone, or just trying to do their job? What do you think they could do better? Let us know in the comments.

James Madison University