Court: Campus police can't just arrest people off campus without some connection to the school

The Supreme Judicial Court today threw out drug-related evidence seized by BU police on an I-93 entrance ramp from a man they had no reason to believe had anything to do with BU.

The case involved two BU police officers who decided to "randomly" run the plate of a man they watched pumping gas near Boston Medical Center, which BU police patrol. When they found out he had an outstanding warrant (for what turned out to be a misdemeanor), they pursued him as he drove away, stopping him on the Mass. Ave. connector. They arrested him and discovered heroin and cocaine in his car's center console.

But the court ruled that because the man was not on BU property and because the outstanding warrant they uncovered in their check had nothing to do with BU, the cops had no right to follow or stop him. And because of that, the heroin and cocaine can't be used against him at his trial.

The court rejected the state's argument that the officers acted in "good faith" and that therefore the evidence should be allowed, saying the way the evidence was seized in the first place caused "substantial and prejudicial" harm to the man's rights against unreasonable search and seizure under Article 14 of the state constitution.

Complete ruling.



    Free tagging: 


    This is BS. Boston PD

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    This is BS.

    Boston PD actively avoids areas patrolled by campus police, because they see no need to put manpower in those areas. This includes comm ave and the Boston medical center (and I presume the northeastern campus). BU doesnt have a campus, it has a series of buildings. If BUPD cant enforce laws in areas near campus, what does that mean? If someone robs the Mcdonalds in Kenmore square, should BUPD ignore it because it's not BU property, even though BU owns 7 buildings in the square?

    Either give campus police full police power or make them the equivalent of mall cops, but this foggy middle ground doesn't work.

    If Campus Police were reduced

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    If Campus Police were reduced to nothing more than mall cops, Boston would need several hundred more police officers to make up the lost manpower on the streets.


    J you are wrong again. Where do you get your information?

    Who told you Boston PD actively avoids areas patrolled by campus police? Or is that just your observations?

    These are state laws that are on the books and are very clear on many things. Private police forces cannot enforce certain law in certain places. How hard is that to grasp?

    And how hard is a "foggy middle ground" that includes 'property that BU owns' and 'property that BU doesn't own'. That seems pretty clear to me.

    What I want to know

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    What I don't understand is why they didn't call in city PD and follow or detain him until "real" cops arrived.

    Well Kaz.

    They probably shouldn't be checking random plates with the RMV in the first place. Secondly, the Boston Police aren't going to be happy showing up having to arrest, book and write a report on what may have been just a simple warrant arrest for a motor vehicle warrant. And I'm not sure if they could even detain the vehicle. Just by pulling the vehicle over and "seizing" it they were violating the statute.

    But this seemed like good police work and a good motor vehicle stop if these guys had juristiction here.


    Running Plates

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    Comm v Starr states it is 100% proper for a Police Officer to initiate a random number plate inquiry.

    As stated in other posts, BU does not have a campus, but just buildings within neigborhoods. Any criminal activity occruring in the contiguous area could very well affect the employees and students at BU.

    Drug and gang violence is on the uptake in that neighborhood, most of it due to drugs and drug related crimes. The BUPD guys were patrolling their neighborhood and dealt with a problem. It appears the court believes the person with the coke and heroin in his car had no intention on dealing in the nighborhood. He was probably on his way to Cohasset to deal his product on Jerusalam Road!

    This is bad case law. Any sworn Police Officer can make an arrest on a warrant anywhere in the state. As a Police Officer in a city south of Boston I can make a warrant arrest anywhere in the state. There does not have to be a tie to my city. A warrant is not a crime and it does not matter whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor (punching your wife in the face is a misdemeanor, writing a bad check for $251 is a felony: which is worse?). If there is a warrant issued, it means the crime has already been commited and a court has determined probable cause exists for this person to be arrested.

    I hope this goes to SCOTUS.

    As far as Blackwater having military training, I know several Blackwater employees and can state without doubt that most Blackwater employees have the best military training and real world operational experience than most active duty service personnel. Part of Blackwater's business model includes training active duty forces, both conventional and special operations.


    I'm saying they probably shouldn't be running plates.

    Not that it's against the law. And I'm not so sure the court ruled anything on what the drug dealers were intending to do, it seemed like the court was ruling on juristiction.

    And I belive you were reading the warrant arrest statute wrong. It is somewhat clear what campus police can or cannot do, and arresting for a misdemeanor warrant off campus is not one of them.

    "The Commonwealth concedes on appeal, and we agree, that the campus police, as special State police officers, did not have the statutory authority to execute the arrest warrant in this case, where the underlying offense was not "committed in or upon lands or structures owned or used or occupied" by Boston University, and the defendant was not present on those lands and structures when the warrant was executed. [FN3] G.L. c. 22C, § 63. It also concedes that the officers had no common-law authority to execute an arrest warrant for a misdemeanor in the circumstances presented here, even as mere citizens."

    You can arrest in your town for a warrant from other towns, but you cannot arrest in another town for a misdemeanor warrant. I think you had that backwards.

    My point

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    My point with Blackwater is that even though the US hires them for "security services" overseas and they are military-trained (or even training-military), they don't get the same level of "rights" overseas that an actual US Army Soldier does. The analogy holds for BUPD. They get all the same training if they want it (or are required by BU) but 22c-section63 of the MGL puts them in a very specific box and doesn't give them the kind of carte blanche that "real" cops get.

    First off junior BU cops are

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    First off junior BU cops are "real cops" you sound like another ignorant college kid. Second this is a jurisdictional and 4th amendment case. It has nothing to do with police training or police powers. BU Officers attend the police academy just like every other police officer in the Commonwealth. Let me guess you got busted for beer and have it out for campus officers.

    It has everything to do with police powers mulder.

    And they are real cops for all intents and purposes, but there are some exceptions. They don't have the same police powers as the Boston Police in Boston or the Cambridge Police in Cambridge. They can't pull over cars, they can't seize someone on public property for misdeamnor crimes involving in presence arrests, etc etc.

    Let me ask you this Mulder. Can the BU police pull over cars on Comm Ave. for speeding? Becasue I would think a "real cop" would be able to do that don't you think?

    Mulder has a point, Pete

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    If the car was driving around in the lobby of Agganis Arena, I bet they would be within their rights to pull it over and run its plates.

    And, to Mulder: This is why stereotyping based on a single sentence of reading is a bad idea. I was at BU for grad school, have never had a bad run-in with BUPD in my entire 7 years, didn't even have as much as a beer through my 4 years of undergrad in an entirely different state, and was saying '"real" cops' because a "real" cop would have been allowed to run the plate of a suspicious vehicle, note the outstanding warrant, make the arrest, and admit the evidence of new drug charges without a 4th Amendment issue. In fact, if this had all gone down because Brookline PD had seen a guy at a Brighton gas station...I'm guessing we wouldn't be having this discussion.

    Nearly all of the Blackwater guys have a full military training...that doesn't make them military. So, I don't care if the FBI trains BUPD, it doesn't make them "real" cops. They're clearly not mall cops or campus security, but they're not the same as BPD either.


    I don't think he was talking about that.

    I equate "police powers" to issues like juristiction, right to arrest, right to pull over a car, etc. Not "power" in the sense that they aren't as tough or anything.

    And again, these BU cops would be better than probably 50% of the BPD if given the job. They are good cops. They are just limited in what they can do legally in many instances.


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    Yeah, I was joking about him having a good point. I knew exactly what you meant and agreed.

    "Who told you Boston PD

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    "Who told you Boston PD actively avoids areas patrolled by campus police? Or is that just your observations?"

    The Globe. Around 4 years ago. No, I dont have a link, it was 4 years ago. And yes, my observations have made it obvious that the report is true. The closest BPD gets is the Kenmore red sox details, paid for by the Red Sox. And of course the riot police that show up for the world series, paid for by the red sox and the universities.

    "And how hard is a "foggy middle ground" that includes 'property that BU owns' and 'property that BU doesn't own'. That seems pretty clear to me."

    BU doesn't own commonwealth avenue. What happens if something is going down at the BU central T stop? Thats MBTA land. Ignore it and move on? I'm sure transit police will get there in a jiffy. How about the new grass strip next to the tracks that BU paid for and maintains but does not own?

    How about a building sandwiched between two BU owned buildings? Not their problem? Again, with the Kenmore Mcdonalds example, right next to the BU owned Hotel Commonwealth and across the street from BU owned barnes and nobles.

    BUPD responds first to incidents at the MIT frats on Bay State because they get there faster than MIT police (Boston PD never bothers with that). Should BUPD ignore a fight that broke out even though they can get there 3 minutes before MIT cops can? Should MIT cops not show up because it's in a different city?

    BUPD patrols parts of Allston closest to campus, but nothing there is owned by BU. They make rounds because of off campus students.

    How about this:

    "In order to reduce this influx of crime, BU has hired additional Boston Police officers to increase the frequency of weekend patrols, now through commencement, in the area west of our campus.”"

    BU has to go out of their way to PAY Boston PD to patrol parts of Allston. That sort of fits in with the Globe report that BPD doesnt do anything where campus police is present. Do you pay an additional amount from your taxes to ensure BPD makes a round in your neighborhood?

    "J you are wrong again"
    No, Im not. Please point out where I'm wrong. No, disagreeing with the union provided talking points paper does not mean I;m wrong.

    First off I worked there.

    And I can tell you for a fact that D-14 and D-4 NEVER actively avoided any part of Boston. Never. So that's where you are wrong. I don't care what you read in the globe. The globe has been wrong at least one million times in the last 4 years. And you are wrong thinking this arrest was legal in anyway. It wasn't. so you were wrong.

    You ask "What happens if something is going down at the BU central T stop?"

    Well it depend on what it is. And this is different that a BU cop checking the licence plate of a vehicle getting gas at a private gas station on private property don't you think?

    Let's say a guy grabs a womans purse at a T station on Comm Ave. Do you want to know who has the right to arrest that person? I'll tell you since it's IN THE STATUTES ANYWAY. The following people could arrest that man if they saw it: The Boston Police, the BU Police, the Brookline Police, the MIT police, and any other citizen since felonies are arrestable by anyone.

    How about if someone drives down 2000 Comm Ave with a broken tailight. Do you want to know who could pull that car over? Only the Boston and Brookline Police.

    You could go on and on about a million different situations of juristiction and arrest powers, most of them are laid out in the statutes. They aren't my opinion.

    As for BU hiring Boston PD to patrol certain areas? They don't have to. But the school does this to appease neighbors who complain and complain about how nothing gets done to students that have loud parties. The Boston Police stack hundreds of loud party calls each weekend so they can respond to more serious calls. Should it be up to the Boston taxpayers to pay for more officers because BU doesn't have enough on campus housing?

    Im sorry but private citizens

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    Im sorry but private citizens cant make citizens arrest in Massachusetts like in other states. The statue states it must be In Fact Comitted.

    Your last paragraph is so

    Your last paragraph is so ignorant on the situation in Allston that it is laughable.

    This has nothing to do with loud parties, this has to do with students complaining about increases in assaults and robberies in the neighborhood. These are much more "serious" than loud party calls. Your assumption in this case that it has anything to do with loud parties is absurd. Even people on this site have commented on this increase in violent crime, saying "undergrad students actually make me feel safer". Shouldn't a normal response to an increase in violent crime to step up patrols? Why does it appear the BPD refused to do so until BU paid them for these patrols?

    Crime in Allston?

    First off, part a crimes in Allston are probably down 1000% since 10-20-30 years ago. And I'm not saying this has anything to do with more police patrols in the area, it's just a fact. You would probably be shocked to read the nightly robbery, sexual assault and theft reports from Allston in the 1980's. Totally different world than it is today.

    And this has everything to do with loud parties when 75% of a districts call volume on a weekend night are loud parties. And I don't want to blame this on BU. I'd say most of these parties in this area are probably not BU students. I'd also like to point out that in my experience, 99% of BU students are good kids, and are very respectfull to law enforcement when they show up. But loud parties drain districts manpower, and you cannot dispute that. There have been extra patrols and community service cars that have handled these calls, but they continue to be the majority of calls in the Allston area.

    BPD would love to step up patrols and add 50 more officers to each precinct. That isn't up to the Captains of those precints though. That funding comes from other places.

    Have B.U. pay their fair share of taxes

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    I would think that since colleges and universities have a tax exempt status would have something to do with their willingness to hire REAL police officers for extra patrols. THEY HAVE THE EXTRA MONEY. How about having them pay their fare share like everyone else. I am sure those taxes could go to adding more Boston police officers in those areas that show a sudden spike in crime. Novel idea isn't it. While we're at it why don't we have the entire "B.U.pd" fall under the Boston Police department special police officer rule like every other licensed special in the city. What makes them any different. Their cruisers are RMV issued vanity plates not real police plates. I say have a staff of campus security and a small contingent of Boston special police officers. That's all you need. Let me address the "Boston PD avoids patrol in curtain areas" comment. That is complete bunk. Let's just make up comments to say why don't we. Let me ask you this, if Boston Medical center has a homeless person who is drunk, unruly and maybe in need of a shower, who do you think gets that call for service. That's right Boston PD get's that call. Why, because B.U. doesn't want to deal with that type of situation so they "AVOID" it. So I ask, who is doing the avoiding. B.U.pd is bound by rules and regulations set forth by the Suffolk County Sheriffs Department. It clearly states that their scope of jurisdiction is the school property and that's it. Apparently they never read that part. They can't even pull cars over. I would expect that this criminal will now file a civil suit and get paid off because of two overreaching police stand-ins. Good job B.U.

    Dude, you're wrong

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    BPD sets up speed traps all through Commonwealth Ave near Blandford, BU East, and BU Central. They even use BU parking lots to radar from. I see it all the time driving through there. It's a real gauntlet sometimes.

    J does have a point, though

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    Somebody who is a lawyer or who does vehicle stops for a living correct me, but my re-reading is that the decision doesn't say BU cops can't any enforce laws off campus.

    But with one heck of a caveat.

    The ruling says they do so under the same limitations as members of the general public who try to make a citizens arrest: They really have to have a good reason to stop somebody. Otherwise, they fall under MGL Chapter 22c, section 63, which limits their police authority to "any criminal offense committed in or upon lands or structures owned, used or occupied by such college, university, or other institution or hospital."

    In this particular case, the court ruled that randomly checking out the registration of a car that was not on campus (in this case, the grounds of Boston Medical Center), following the driver for an outstanding misdemeanor that had nothing to do with BU and then stopping and arresting him even though he was doing nothing suspicious far exceeded their authority. Even the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, which sought to have the evidence allowed despite all that, conceded that "the officers had no common-law authority to execute an arrest warrant for a misdemeanor in the circumstances presented here, even as mere citizens."

    Well I think all BU cops are Sherrifs.

    And that gives them the right off arrest here, but it seems like the DAs office argued "good faith" and failed to even mention the sheriff powers in the initial hearing.

    And I can't remember the case off hand, but a few years ago the BU police made an arrest off campus for a crime that happend on campus. I believe that it was a restraining order or threat case. The court ordered the BU could make the arrest since the arrest happend 'close' to campus and that the crime happened on campus, and because the crime was serious.

    Ill have to look it up.

    From the book:

    'Young v. Boston University, 64 Mass. App. Ct. 586 (2005)'

    The appeals court concluded that "special vigilance of an officer might be required to keep the peace and preserve order amongst those frequenting the (university and) those carrying persons to and from it".

    And Mass Generals 22C s.63 provides that special state police officers "have the same power to make arrests as regular police officers for any criminal offense committed in or upon lands or structures owned, used or occupied by such... university."

    So basically these BU cops are not on campus and cannot make an arrest for misdemeanor warrants or any misdemeanor crime. I read that pretty clearly from this decision.

    The whole sherriff thing clouds it up though, and I think the "good faith" defense was kind of a shot in the dark by the DAs here. Since the stop did lead to the arrest of some real criminals though, I have a feeling that the DAs office had to give this one a good try. Id like to hear what Jake W. has to say on the issue.

    Atleast your campus police

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    Atleast your campus police can do something. At University of Hawaii we have campus security and they can't even chase down and arrest a student unless he physically attacks them or they are a non student trespassing. Not only that, that can't even search bags, get ids, or anything without HPD ( HOnolulu PD). Laws have made them pretty much useless. All they can do during an emergency is call 911 themselves and try to set up a perimeter