Bill to give DPS police powers passes

Tribune File Photo
Tribune File Photo

After deliberation in the Wisconsin State Legislature, the State Senate has passed a bill to allow Marquette to commission a police department.

The bill allows Department of Public Safety officers to have the same powers as Milwaukee law enforcement officials to “maintain order, detect and prevent crime, enforce laws and ordinances and make arrests for violations of laws and ordinances.”

The senate bill was introduced Feb. 17 and passed Tuesday to be signed by Gov. Scott Walker.

The bills were drafted after a governor’s task force on campus safety commissioned in 2007 recommended the Legislature allow private college and universities to operate a police department, which at the time was only an option available to four-year UW system schools.

Following the governor’s task force, a Marquette internal task force met in the summer of 2013 to review the concept of an internal police department. The task force was co-chaired by L. Christopher Miller, the vice president for student affairs, and Janine Kim, associate professor of law. The group included faculty, staff and student representatives.

Even if the bill is signed into law by Walker, it is still up to the university to decide if it wants to commission the police department by going in to talks with university officials to see what the jurisdiction, costs and effects of commissioning would be.