Campus Police Ride Along Experience
Tyler Korponai – Photo Editor
Sergeant Tullo begins his shift expecting the car, checking all of the equipment: radio, computer, and the lights. He moves to the back of the car, carefully cataloging all of his gear. Among them include flex cuffs and quick clot to rapidly close wounds. On his uniform is one of the new body cameras now issued to officers, for whenever they have an interaction with the public.
“They’re great,” said Tullo. “They keep officers with issues in the past in check. But also, sometimes people in the past would go to court to fight a ticket and they’d say the officer did all kinds of things, cursing stuff like that. People don’t know the camera’s on now when we walk over to talk to them. When we let them know the camera’s on they become ‘politely resistant’ instead.”
With everything in check Tullo gets into the car. He begins surveying the area, looking at the traffic on Farnham Ave, scanning for anything that may be out of the ordinary.
Over the radio comes dispatch requesting that an officer be backed up, an altercation at Pelz is being handled, but it’s standard practice to work in together.
Already present are Officer Sullivan and Officer McKnight, with Tullo present they proceed to defuse a situation before anything becomes a larger issue. The interaction only takes a few moments as Sullivan professional speaks with the involved party.
“We go to calls for service,” said Tullo. “Before it turns into anything major. On a lot of nights though not much will happen. At the same time, you can get a jazz show at Lyman, a game at the field house, add in classes. Now we can have thousands of people on campus. It can get crazy real quick.”
Walking back to their vehicles, preparing to resume their patrols, they outline policing at a university.
“Southern’s a concentrated community,” said Sullivan. “We’re closer to the people we protect. We practice preventative policing, we’ll see problems ahead of time.”
Changing cars now, Officer Cordero begins his shift running “motor vehicle,” the traffic component to policing at Southern.
Running across the instruments set up in the car, Cordero shows off the radars positioned in the front and back used in the motor vehicle cars.
“45 miles an hour and above you get stopped legally,” said Cordero. “The thing is when I come into work I’m doing 40, so I don’t want to be a hypocrite and stop every person whose going above the posted limit. In an area like this it’s 25, we’d have to stop a lot of people. You can’t fly at 50 though, at that point I’ve got to stop you.”
After waiting a few minutes he see’s someone driving without their lights on. Immediately Cordero accelerates, flashing his lights. Right behind follows Sullivan. It’s a routine stop, more to let the driver know their lights are off than anything else.
“I just gave them a written warning,” says Cordero as he walks back to the car. “The violation has to out weigh risk. I’m not going to chase someone down if I’ve got to cut through a busy intersection for something like small turning right on red.
After communicating to dispatch that the stop is over, he drives back towards the center of campus.
It’s a fairly quiet night, only one other stop on Fitch Ave. After driving around the various lots and checking speeds on Pine Rock and Fitch, Cordero returns back to the station to file his reports and offload all of the videos from his body camera’s recordings. For him the night won’t end just yet though, his shift will continue on until two in the morning. It’s just a small glimpse into policing at Southern, a perspective often ignored.
“Interactions are always tougher on our end,” said Cordero. “You see the gun, the uniform, think of the negative stereotypes, now I walk up already having to work myself up to a positive exchange.”
Photo Credit: Tyler Korponai – Photo Editor