Missouri Legislature considers legislation for College of the Ozarks Police Force
Missouri State Representative, Jeff Justus is trying to get the Missouri Legislature to approve a bill that will permit a police department on the campus of the College of the Ozarks, a private college. According to reports, many states throughout the U.S. have given similar approvals, including most of the states surrounding Missouri.
Justice tried to get a similar bill passed last year for all private colleges in Missouri but failed. His current Bill, HB 1282, establishes the “Private College Campus Protection Act.” Currently, for all practical purposes, the application of the bill is limited to the College of the Ozarks, and it has a five-year sunset provision.
The bill does not mention the name of any college. However, its language appears to limit its application so that only the College of the Ozarks could meet the bill’s requirements. HB 1283 says that it must be a private college. That college must also be within five miles of any city of the fourth classification with more than four thousand but fewer than four thousand five hundred inhabitants and in a county of the first classification with more than fifty thousand but fewer than seventy thousand inhabitants.
The college believes that having its own police department would further increase the safety of its students, professors, and guests. Because of its relatively rural location, in times of emergency, it can take a while before a law enforcement agency can get to the campus. Marvin Schoenecke, Dean of Administration, College of the Ozarks, said that it takes at least 15 minutes and could take as long as 45 minutes.
In addition to the establishment of a police force, the HB 1282 states that governing board of the college “may establish regulations to control vehicular traffic, including speed regulations, on any thoroughfare owned or maintained by the college or university and located within” its campus.” The violation of any such regulation established by the college “shall have the same
effect as a violation of municipal ordinances adopted under section 304.120 RSMo, with penalty provisions as provided in section 304.570 RSMo.
As of February 18, HB 1282, although moving forward, is still in the House of Representatives. It has had a public hearing, received the approval of the House’s Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee, and is currently in its Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee.