Previous decision inspires traffic bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – Students could soon face more than just a ticket for parking in faculty and staff.

House Bill 1775 sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson would allow university police to enforce city traffic laws, including writing tickets for traffic violations committed on campus. Currently Missouri Southern employs University Security, not police so the bill would not apply. However Ken Kennedy, director of public safety says there may be a future for university police at Southern.

“I’m in support of the bill because eventually it will probably apply to us,” he said, “If we became a police department and unified with the city we could do most of that [enforce traffic law] anyway,”

Kennedy also said that currently DPS does not police the roadways for moving violations.

The bill was inspired by an incident on the campus of Northwest Missouri State University when University police stopped a student for an on-campus traffic violation in 2005. That stop led to a DWI charge which was dropped on appeal because university police had no jurisdiction to enforce traffic law.

“It’s important for the security on our campus to have the tools they need,” said Tom Johnson of Truman State University campus police.

Currently only the University of Missouri-Columbia’s campus police have the power to enforce traffic law. Multiple Missouri universities do not maintain the roadways running through their campus whereas schools like University of Central Missouri.

“There are some Universities in town where every roadway falls under the authority of the city police and rightly so,” Thomson said.

Currently, Southern maintains the length of roadways running through campus, not including Duquesne and Newman Roads.

The bill also specifies that the university must maintain sufficient signage as to traffic restrictions, including speed limit. Thomson said the danger is not in the lack of restriction of university roadways but in the possibility of decisions getting overturned on appeal, like the case in 2005.

“Most of the offices do enforce the rules,” he said, “You’re not just going to let someone who’s driving violently just go on.”