Campus police officers: trained for the best

uapd squad car
Campus police outside a dorm on Highland Avenue in Tucson.

It was a routine traffic stop in Cincinnati, Ohio, in July that started it all.

Former campus police officer Raymond Tensing pulled over Samuel DuBose because his car did not have a front license plate.

 Tensing reached into the car to restrain DuBose and after Dubose refused to take off his seat belt and get out of the vehicle. Dubose started the car in an attempt to flee the scene. One to two seconds after the car started Tensing drew his weapon and shot Dubose in the head.

 Body camera footage later revealed the shooting was not justified and unnecessary.

 After the shooting at the University of Cincinnati, questions were raised about the training campus officers receive to prevent situations like this, but the three state schools in Arizona seem to have no problems.  

At the three state schools: the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University, police officers have full arrest powers and are required to undergo the same training as the officers of the state.

The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board requires police academies in Arizona to provide at least 585 hours of instruction for basic training curriculum. The basic training consists of a written test, driving proficiency, firearms qualification and the POPAT (physical agility test).

Recruits are paid $22-$23 per hour while in the academy.

The Tucson Police Department and University of Arizona Police Department attend training at the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center’s 16-week basic training program.

At the training center some of the skills the recruit officers learn are firearm training, driver’s training, emergency medical care, report writing, defensive tactics, practical problems and search techniques.

At NAU, recruit officers are required to attend an 18 to 20-week basic training, and at ASU recruit officers attend a 16 to 20-week training program.

While in the training academy, police recruits are given situations where deadly physical force is used or not used and asked to identify whether the action or inaction was justified, according to the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training basic training curriculum.

In addition to the basic training, UAPD officers also receive post-basic training all new officers must complete before operating in a solo capacity. The UAPD officers are on probation for one year before they are in the field alone.

“We do a lot of training, it’s the benefit of having a small department,” said UAPD Sergeant Filbert Barrera.

Some of the areas where officers receive additional training at UAPD are search and seizure, firearms, TASER, driving, defensive tactics, less lethal munitions and impact weapons. According to the UAPD Chief of Police Brian Seastone, the officers at UAPD train quarterly and those trainings are in alignment with both state and department mandates. 

UAPD officers are required to recertify once during the daytime and once during nighttime.

By policy, UAPD officers are allowed to use “force that is reasonable and necessary” to complete their duties.

According to the UAPD annual report, in 2014 UAPD officers used bodily force to gain control of a situation 16 times. That same year officers directed firearms at suspects seven times but did not fire.

 “Anytime an officer applies force we have a review process: what force was used, why it was used in that manner,” said  Seastone.

According to Seastone, because campus officers are certified by the AZPOST, they have statewide policy authority; however the primary jurisdiction of UAPD is the surrounding areas of campus and properties operated by the Arizona Board of Regents.  

Lexus Scott is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the University of Arizona. Contact her at lexusscott@email.arizona.edu.

Click here for a Word version of this story and high-resolution photos. 

 

 

 

 

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