Students interact with university police in the Lunch with a Cop program, which aims to help form a partnership with the student body and police. University Police Department Chief James Duckham stresses the importance of people, especially students, knowing their rights. Christopher Stephens // DN File
Know your rights: Q&A with UPD Chief Duckham
The constitution of the United States guarantees citizens certain inalienable rights, but some of those are different on a college campus.
“I really, strongly believe in people’s fundamental rights and the protections and all those things with the constitution,” University Police Department Chief James Duckham said. "I think it’s helpful for students and citizens to really know their rights, I think it makes it easier for us.”
Duckham, who has over 25 years worth of experience working in public safety and the criminal justice system as an officer, lieutenant, attorney and chief, has stressed the importance of people, especially students, knowing their rights.
The Daily News sat down with Duckham and talked about students and UPD's rights. Here is what you need to know:
Are warrants always required for searching?
"No, because the constitution and the laws of this country," Duckham said. "We can stop somebody if we have reasonable suspicion, which is lower than probable cause, you know, to investigate if a crime has been occurred or is occurring.
"You don’t need a warrant all the time — there are times when you need a warrant to search somebody’s property, and a judge would sign a warrant, not a police officer."
If university police enter a room in a residence hall, are they allowed to seize any item they want to?
"This is a complex question," Duckham said. "Police officers can only seize items in compliance with the law. As a general rule, officers can seize evidence or contraband without a warrant if an exception to the search warrant requirement is applicable, or if they have a search warrant."
What about cars?
"You don’t need a warrant to search a car because it’s mobile," Duckham said. "If you can establish probable cause, so that is the standard that would allow us do that."
UPD does not need a search warrant to search someone's car. Is that the case with other non-university police departments?
"The courts have carved out a number of exceptions to the requirement that police officers have a search warrant to conduct a search," Duckham said. "The search of vehicles is one of those exceptions.
"The Carroll Doctrine, as it is commonly referred to, allows police officers to search vehicles without a warrant so long as the officer has probable cause. That would be true for university police officers as well as municipal police officers."
Can you define a reasonable suspicion and probable cause?
"Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard that allows police officers to stop individuals," Duckham said. "Reasonable suspicion means that the officer, based on articulable facts, has reasonable suspicion that the person is committing, has committed or is about to commit a crime.
"Probable cause is the standard required to arrest someone. It is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion. It means that there are reasonable grounds based on the totality of the circumstances that a crime was committed."
If a student is found drinking under age, what should they do when interacting with police? Are they required to submit to a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test?
"Students should follow the officer’s directions. Each instance would be fact specific," Duckham said. "I cannot give you a general answer about what a student should do in every situation."
Must students or people identify themselves to a university police officer if asked? What happens if the person refuses to identify themselves?
"Students are required to comply with the Student Code and applicable laws," Duckham said. "In general, students are required to identify themselves to university police officers. I would refer you to the Student Code and Indiana law for any specific questions you may have in this area."
Do you believe that very many students know that?
"I don’t know, that a great question. I think some students that are taking criminal justice classes probably would know that. I think that some students that are really keen on their constitutional rights would know that type of stuff," Duckham said.
"I’m an attorney so I really strongly believe in people’s fundamental rights and the protections and all those things with the constitution."
When students are put in a situation when they are interacting with police in an situation, would you say the way they treat the police officer will affect the consequences in any way?
"It should have no impact on the consequences. I mean, the law is the law and I want my officers to operate on the law," Duckham said. "They have probable cause to make an arrest, then that’s the standard. Just cause you don’t like me or you may be rude to me doesn’t establish probable cause to arrest somebody.
"I think that what happens sometimes is friction between the police and the public and that’s where community policing and trust building helps break down those barriers where people have trust that I am going to treat you respectfully and lawfully," Duckham said. "I think if you can do that and citizens have that sense.
"Nobody likes to be stopped by police, I don’t like to be stopped by the police and I am a police officer but I understand the process."
What should students do if they ever feel like their rights have been violated on campus?
"They should make a complaint, they should go to the university police or whatever agency that stopped them and they feel like they were inappropriately treated," Duckham said. "Those cases are looked at and it's important that we do that, it restores faith in the system, and accountability."