Andrew Yde, For The Miami Student

The Miami University Police Department and Oxford Police Department have formed a partnership to allow both police forces wider jurisdiction. (Lisa Gehring | Photographer)

In an effort to improve both the speed and strength of police responses in the Mile Square area of Oxord, the Oxford Police Department (OPD) and Miami University Police Department (MUPD), have implemented a new mutual jurisdiction agreement.

According to Lt. Ben Spilman spokesman for the MUPD, this new agreement will allow MUPD officers to assist with off-campus issues, no matter their severity, both uptown and elsewhere in the Mile Square region of Oxford bounded by Patterson Avenue, Locust Street, Chestnut Street and High Street.

“This is an effort between the city and the university to provide the best possible service to the community,” Spilman said.

Before the new jurisdiction agreement, which took nine months to formulate, MUPD personnel were only allowed to assist off campus with explicit request from OPD personnel. Such requests were usually inspired by threat of serious injury or property damage off campus, according to Spilman.

“This is innovative as far as cooperation between separate police departments,” Spilman said.

According to Sgt. Jon Varley, a 17-year veteran for the OPD, this mutual jurisdiction agreement is not the first time the separate departments have come together. Before the pact, it was not unusual for MUPD and OPD personnel to share patrol cars on any given day. Nonetheless, OPD maintained sole jurisdiction in the Mile Square region. “They no longer have to call,” Sgt. Varley said. “Anything they see, they can act upon, as if each one of them is just another Oxford officer.”

Student body president John Stefanski said he was intrigued by the conjunction of administrative efforts composing the new jurisdiction agreement. Stefanski and Associated Student Government (ASG) informed students about the new mutual jurisdiction agreement during a walk-around to off-campus houses.

“ASG has been trying to get the word out because students will be experiencing a larger police presence uptown, and throughout the Mile Square region,” Stefanski said. “We want to make sure that students know that this is not an attack by police, but rather an attempt to make students and citizens of Oxford safer.”

Not surprisingly, some students are skeptical of the plan. Junior Elliott Brose said he believes the effectiveness of the previous jurisdiction evidenced no need for the new agreement.

“I think as Miami University police, they need to stay in the campus bounds,” Brose said. “If they go off campus to parties and other miscellaneous activities, that could leave the campus less protected.”

Still, Spilman said this mutual jurisdiction agreement will do nothing more than optimize the promptness of police response to off-campus issues, and on-campus issues will be dealt with just as they have been in the past.