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Just focus on campus, UVSC police told

OREM -- Utah Valley State College's faculty senate president is echoing the administration's concerns that the school's police officers are spending too much time patrolling off-campus streets.

Grant Richards, an assistant professor in the college's Learning Enrichment Center, said UVSC professors are worried not only about stolen backpacks and traffic tickets on campus streets -- but unforeseen violent rampages that could prove fatal for faculty and students if officers aren't nearby."We're thinking about things like Columbine," he said. "We want campus officers on campus."

Richards said professors often spot police officers away from campus. Twenty-five traffic tickets were issued last month by campus police to motorists on off-campus streets.

Richards' sentiments, voiced in a June 3 meeting with President Kerry D. Romesburg, have sparked a public spat between police officers and college administrators. Following the meeting, a memo restricting officers from patrolling or writing tickets on 800 South or 400 West was drafted.

"Officers should not patrol Orem city streets nor write tickets on Orem streets without Orem officers requesting assistance or backup," wrote Utah Valley Vice President Gil Cook. "Officers who are found working outside the college area of operations will be suspended on first offense and will be terminated on second offense."

However, before the memorandum was sent to full-time and reserve officers, Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert was issued a ticket on 800 South by officer Sterling Clark. When the directive on the patrol area was sent June 9, officers publicly questioned the intent behind the restrictions.

"Is (the memo) related to Commissioner Herbert? You can come to your own conclusion on that," Clark said last week.

Police wondered if they were to forgo stopping speeding motorists on the road fronting their headquarters or the Alpine School District's Life and Learning Center, which are both on 800 South.

UVSC Police Chief T. Lonie Fisher updated the department's policy handbook Tuesday in regards to off-campus law enforcement. In the addition, Fisher said the police officers traveling in local jurisdictions may write citations "in exigent circumstances."

Fisher also reminded officers they can operate stationary radar only on UVSC property and may offer help to a neighboring law-enforcement agency if called for assistance.

"The officer needs to consider the needs of UVSC before responding to help the agency," Fisher said. "The officer should help the agency, but should do so expeditiously and return to their duties at UVSC."

Val Peterson, associate vice president for college relations, repeats his insistence that the June 9 memo wasn't a result of Herbert's traffic ticket and the commissioner's subsequent call to administrators questioning an extended offer to attend a $50 traffic course at UVSC to clear the ticket from his record.

The chief's policy addition Tuesday was "to clarify what we want them to do," said Peterson, who met with Herbert Tuesday to discuss the perception of the events surrounding the ticket and memo.

"Of course (the police) can respond if they see something they must attend to in the course of their duties," Peterson said. "They are peace officers. That's what they do. Our concern is that they are available to patrol the campus."