Agreements, Chart Detail Town and Gown Policing Responsibilities on Princeton University Campus

The Princeton University Public Safety Department handles all routine calls on campus such as alarms, lockouts, medical calls and parking enforcement. The department also handles all alcohol law violations, drug law violations, harassment cases, past burglaries, and past auto thefts on school property, according to public records obtained by Planet Princeton.

The school’s public safety department jointly handles investigations with the Princeton Police Department in numerous other areas.  An agreement between the two agencies delineates which department has primary responsibility and which has secondary responsibility for certain calls and investigations.

Princeton University’s Public Safety Department has primary responsibility for handling investigations related to HAZMAT issues, bomb threats, past domestic violence, missing persons, thefts, past sexual assaults, and motor vehicle accidents with minor injuries.

The Princeton Police Department has primary responsibility for handling serious motor vehicle accidents (DWIs, serious injuries and fatalities), according to public records obtained by Planet Princeton. The Princeton Police Department also has primary responsibility for handling aggravated assaults with a knife or gun, arson, robberies in progress, crimes involving weapons, domestic violence in progress, auto theft in progress, kidnapping, murder, suicide, and sexual assaults in progress.

Responsibilities for each police department are detailed in a “schedule of shared responsibilities” that is updated annually as part of the policing agreement (see below).

Under the revised policing agreement, the Princeton Police Department has primary responsibility for calls at the new Wawa convenience store, which is located on Princeton University property, and 911 calls from the Wawa go to the town’s police department. Crimes in progress are exclusively handled by the Princeton Police Department until the situation is safe.

The Princeton Police Department is also responsible for parking enforcement for the 85 metered spaces within the Princeton Dinky train station parking lot, as well as for up to 26 parking spaces on University Place and up to 47 parking spaces on Alexander Street, according to the policing agreement.

Parking at the 127 permit spaces and the 18 short-term metered spaces adjacent to the Wawa convenience store will be enforced by Princeton University.

In 2013, a Princeton council member made headlines for calling 911 from the Dinky station parking lot to try to determine which agency was responding to 911 calls at the station.

Planet Princeton requested the policing agreements through the state’s Open Public Records Act and New Jersey common law. The town of Princeton sought to keep all agreements and related materials private, denying the public records request by Planet Princeton. After Planet Princeton filed a lawsuit, four agreements were released by the town.

Three agreements cover policing jurisdiction. The general principles of the agreement are:

– The Princeton University Department of Public Safety has primary response and investigative responsibility for calls in the jurisdiction of Princeton University property.

– The Princeton Police Department has primary responsibility for in progress calls, calls with weapons, and some of the most serious crimes that occur on Princeton University property.

– In situations where both police agencies are collaborating on a case, the police agency taking the lead will keep the other police agency informed of case progress. The lead agency is responsible
for completing the primary investigation reports and any related changes. The assisting or secondary agency will only complete supplemental reports as needed, according to the agreement.

– Both police agencies will provide mutual aid assistance for incidents when requested. Based on the jurisdiction of the incident, the Princeton University Public Safety Department or the Princeton Police Department will record Uniform Crime Report statistics. The school will provide the municipality with a monthly summary of statistics, and the Princeton Police Department will provide the school with statistics for Clery Act crimes and arrests for violations of drug and alcohol laws that occur on the campus and in the campus vicinity.

A fourth agreement covers the handling of sexual assaults. As part of the agreement, off-campus assaults involving members of the Princeton University community, either as victims and suspects, will be reported to the Princeton University Title IX Office via the Princeton University Department of Public Safety. The Princeton Police Department will permit a representative of the Title IX Office at Princeton University to observe the interviews conducted by the Princeton Police Department. When the Title IX Office and the Princeton Police Department are both conducting concurrent investigations, they will seek to coordinate efforts.

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