Jurisdiction only difference between TPD and UAPD

Jennie Kushner

If you are wondering what the difference is between a University of Alabama Police Department officer and a Tuscaloosa Police Department officer, there is none, according to Brent Blankley, TPD public information officer.

Blankley said a UAPD officer patrols the campus, and the TPD patrols everything within the city limits.

“There is no difference between the two,” Blankley said. “The only difference is our jurisdiction. We are both sworn officers.”

According to the 2009 annual campus security report, “[UAPD] officers are vested with all the powers, authority and responsibilities of any police officer of the state on property owned or operated by the University, as well as on public streets and property immediately adjacent to campus.”

The two departments work together on a regular basis, as well, according to UA spokeswoman Cathy Andreen.

“Officers from both agencies frequently respond on calls together in the neighborhoods surrounding campus, investigators from both agencies often share information about cases that may overlap jurisdictions, and the agencies periodically participate in joint training exercises,” she said.

UAPD patrols all of campus and the fringe area. The fringe area is bordered by Hackberry Lane, 15th St., Queen City Avenue and Jack Warner Parkway.

“While both UAPD and TPD deploy resources in the residential areas surrounding campus, TPD is the agency with primary jurisdiction for off-campus areas,” Andreen said. “Therefore they are responsible for reporting and investigating incidents that occur there.”

According to the UAPD website, the department currently has 65 authorized, full-time sworn positions and nine full-time civilian employees.

The TPD has 251 sworn officers who are supported by more than 60 civilian employees, according to their website.

Some students say they feel safe having both jurisdictions patrolling on and around campus.

“I live right off campus in what is considered the fringe area,” said Caroline Krauser, a senior majoring in advertising. “It is nice to have both departments to count on in a time of need. I know that with both departments, I am that much more safe.”

Krauser said both departments are equally as helpful.

“The few times that I have involvements with UAPD and TPD, officers of both jurisdictions have been very helpful and considerate,” she said. “I live with several other girls, so whenever we feel threatened, I know that both departments are able to help us.”

Other students feel having both departments arrive at a scene is a waste of time and money.

“Having both jurisdictions arrive a scene is a waste of the officers time and tax payer dollars,” Alex McCallum, a senior majoring in economics, said. “It seems pointless to have so many police show up at one place.”

Jimmy Smith, a senior majoring in urban planning, said it’s a good idea to increase the police force at the University.

“With the University’s limited police force and the growing size of the University’s student population, it’s not a bad idea to increase the number of police officers on campus,” Smith said. “However, it is not fair to the taxpayers of the City of Tuscaloosa to pay their officers to provide services for the University alone.

“If the student population continues to grow, it would be wise for the University to consider increasing its number of uniform officers in order to meet the needs of the student and faculty population,” Smith said.