UA-76843172-1

Know your rights for off-campus living

Julie Raffensperger
Associate Features Editor

Since the age of eighteen, you have experienced that wonderful feeling of power and freedom. However, as the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Being a college student, it is your responsibility to know and exercise your rights, both on and off campus.
After speaking with Chief of Police, John Rochat of the Millersville Borough, and Chief of Police, Peter Anders of the Millersville University Police Department, many questions addressing student’s rights were able to be answered. The Snapper had hoped to ask Chief of Police Peter Anders of the Millersville University Police Department, but he was unavailable at the time.
When asked who a student should contact in the event of an emergency (e.g. a fire, break-in, harassment, etc) Chief Rochat answered, “I think we need to send one message to the students so it is not confusing. Now that MU dispatching is done by the county, it does not matter who they call…At the end of the day, more than likely, both ourselves and MUPD will respond.”
Car issues were also addressed; a problem many students on and off campus have had to face. Chief Rochat simply responded, “If someone has hit your car, we would respond to the accident. We would then investigate it and take the report. However, if you are having car issues you should contact AAA services to get assistance.” Whether on or off campus, the Borough police will respond to your call.
Chief of Police, Peter Anders, of the MUPD also responded, “If this is a hit and run accident, and the other car has left, you can file a report with the appropriate police agency. If it is off-campus the non-emergency 24/7 number to contact a police department for a report is 717-664-1180. Again, the dispatcher will dispatch the correct department based upon your location. I would encourage students who live off campus to check with their landlord to obtain the contact information for the municipality for the property. For example, Brookwood apartments are off campus, within the Borough of Millersville, and the day time business number of the Millersville Borough Police is 872-4657, which forwards to 664-1180 if there are no persons at the station.”

Both Millersville University Police Department and Millersville Bourugh Police protect Brookwood Apartments.

Another issue, in which it is crucial you know your rights, is getting pulled over by the police. Chief Rochat had this to say: “If the officer performs a traffic stop and it is not a marked car, it is permissible for the driver to seek a well-lit area. Slow down and let them know you will stop when it is safe. The law requires them as a licensed driver to give license and registration, and the best thing to do is cooperate. Department policy would dictate that the officer is courteous to the individual, such as explaining the reason for the stop.”
As many of you know, the police officers on campus have “undercover” vehicles. A vehicle such as this is an example of an “unmarked car.” Although they are used by legitimate officers, there are those who illegally attempt to imitate these cars. It is important to take Chief Rochat’s advice and pull into a well-lit area. If you are really unsure, it is even within your rights to call 911 and verify an officer’s badge number.
Lastly, there is often controversy about whether or not you must let an officer in if they knock at your door. Chief Rochat explained, “No. To search anything, we need consent or a search warrant. It is good to answer the door, but is ultimately up to you to let them in if they are without a warrant. On the other hand, if there is probable cause, the officer may detain an individual if need be, in order to keep the situation under control. In serious cases, we may have police officers stationed at the front and back of the house to secure the area and ensure safety.”
When asked if she felt the MUPD and Millersville Borough do an adequate job, senior Lauren Byerly responded, “I’ve never been in a situation that i’ve ever needed them. However, I do give tours and always mention MUPD and their escort service. I think it’s nice to have the MUPD so close to campus ready to respond to any emergencies and also just willing to help ensure that students feel safe on campus.”
Sophomore Chris Mordovancey stated, “I think that for the most part they do a good job at keeping people safe. I personally have not been in any situation with them that they didn’t handle well.”
Many students will be fortunate enough to never find themselves in a situation where they need a police officer’s assistance. However, everyone should keep in mind that the MUPD has an escort service available to all students. Chiefe Anders added, “The University Police do not provide escorts for off campus but if a student had significant concern for an escort off campus due to a recent crime, the officers will consider the request. The escort service is performed from 11:00 pm – 7:00 am, but officers are flexible if there is a reasonable concern for safety. An example would be a student who was the victim of a violent crime. We will try to find a solution to ensure that a victim is safe and have worked with neighboring departments to ensure officers are familiar with victims of crime and their concerns.”
So if you ever find yourself alone and in need of assistance, call the MUPD. The officers on our campus are here to ensure all students’ safety and well-being. No wonder our university is top-ranked when it comes to safety!