Inside look at campus police

November 7, 2017


Photo by: Jeffery Miller

There is only one place on campus that is intended to handle the safety issues that might arise throughout the day. Whether the problem is small or serious, the Nicholls State University police department is always meant to be the first to respond.

Chief of University Police Craig Jaccuzzo said he takes pride in the department’s efficiency and professionalism when it comes to handling problems and enforcing the law.

“We provide everything you would expect in law enforcement. We regulate traffic laws. We regulate misdemeanors. We make arrests…In addition to that, we are able to assist our campus body with a lot of things that you don’t typically get (from a city police station),” Jaccuzzo said.

Some services that the department offers that many students may be unaware of are jumpstarting batteries, unlocking vehicles and providing escorts to and from buildings as well as crime prevention and alcohol and drug awareness programs.

“We are interactive with our campus body…We work with Student Life to make sure that we keep a relationship,” Jaccuzzo said.

On a day to day basis, a uniformed officer has many different duties and responsibilities around campus.

“A typical officer’s day is patrolling the campus, working campus events and responding to anything that we receive as a call to service for our campus…that students, faculty or staff need, or even community members,” Jaccuzzo said.

There are many differences between the university police department and a city police station. A few of these differences are the connection between administration and the department, the care and consideration for students and the option to educate and discipline rather than reprimand offenders.

“We do our work good and thorough. We follow a community policing philosophy, and we specialize in mastering simple things and doing those better…We are attached to our campus community close than what other agencies are,” Jaccuzzo said.

“The reason that we are successful is that we’re allowed to utilize the administrative function of the university in addition to or besides criminally enforcing people. Sheriff’s offices and municipalities have to enforce or only have one avenue to address an issue, and that’s through a criminal enforcement and arrest…So the big difference between us is that we have alternatives to enforcement that are impactful.” Jaccuzzo said.

Jaccuzzo explained that university police department utilizes the student code of conduct and the administrative authority of the president to use, “intervention, prevention, and education,” to resolve present issues and avert future problems.

Major events on campus such as football games, tailgates or festivals are always a challenge that the department is thoroughly prepared for.

“When we work anything major, we have operation plans,” Jaccuzzo said. “The reason we are successful is that I have a group of experienced members…that have experience behind them and training to make sure that we can organize those things and respond appropriately when something does come.”

On a campus with an attendance of around 6,000 students, there is always going to be some sort of issue. Some of the issues that the department handles deal with harassment on social media, or cyber bullying and moderating the use of illegal narcotics. What many people may not realize is that the department also assists in helping students who may be struggling with their mental health.

“We have at our hand counselors on campus. We have an alternative where we can bring students who are in need of mental support instantly to a licensed, trained counselor.” Jaccuzzo said.

To maximize safety on campus, Jaccuzzo stressed the importance of knowing surroundings, being smart when making decisions and always planning ahead.

“Safety starts with you first…know the risks that you are taking.” Jaccuzzo said.

While being an official police department, Jaccuzzo and his department still find it difficult to work solely on a college campus. The department feels that sometimes they are unfairly stereotyped as being less than an actual police officer, but that does not stop them from reporting to duty every day.

“One thing that probably offends my department is the ignorance of individuals not being aware of what we are. We are a police department…The staff I have here are dedicated to the faculty, staff and students.” Jaccuzzo said.

“Our officers have a form of compassion and sympathy towards our students and work with them…They stay current. They do their job, and they do it well.” Jaccuzzo said.

The Nicholls State Department of University Police can be reached for emergencies at 985-448-4911, or for non-emergencies at 985-448-4746. The department office is located at 906 East First Street.

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