St. Mary's College considers allowing campus officers to issue civil citations

October 07, 1998|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,SUN STAFF

Prompted by complaints of police overreaction to a large party on campus, St. Mary's College officials are considering allowing college security officers to issue civil citations for alcohol violations rather than calling on outside law enforcement agencies.

The recommendation was included in a report by Dean of Students Michael Freeman on the Sept. 5 party that was broken up by county deputies, assisted by state police and Department of Defense officers from Patuxent Naval Air Station, after campus authorities called for help.

Pepper spray was used and a police helicopter circled overhead as 18 students were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Many on the Southern Maryland campus claim that police overreacted to a harmless Saturday night gathering.

"We have previously dealt with illegal alcohol use with what I would call internal citations," St. Mary's President Jane Margaret O'Brien said.

"This recommendation is that we move to outside citations, civil citations. We want to think about that before we do it."

In the report, Freeman said: "Many students reported the events be bewildering and upsetting because they did not know what led to the police officers' actions."

In addition to increasing campus police powers, the report recommends that campus security use a sound system when trying to break up large gatherings and that a education effort explain the laws that apply to such gatherings.

Pub Date: 10/07/98

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