Campus Police – Need of the Hour

Mohammad Jahangir Hossain Mojumder & Pranab Kumar Panday

17 June, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Sacred campuses of an increasing number of educational institutions, the workshops for development of human resources, necessitate such an environment, which expedites snowballing students’ attainments of desired goals. However, in many respects, numerous intuitions are failing to produce quality products, as because, they have been encountering varied teething troubles and security matters in their day to day operations. The increasing intensity of security worries outspread sufferings for teachers, students, associate staffs, guardians, visitors, people of adjacent areas and in a whole the system of teaching-learning-evaluation processes, and distract stakeholders’ relatable courses. The tendency of disruptions exhibits an incessant upward movement. Spoiled outsiders and students relating to the former groups are thought to be responsible for such worries. The identified troublemakers remain engaged with varied antisocial activities including eve-teasing and sexual harassment, physical and mental tortures in the name of ragging, extortion, arson, blackmailing, harassment of harmless students, and teachers in class and examination hall, and attacking them outside, snatching, burglary, terrorism, riotous behaviour, and drug-selling.

Once, teachers acted as deterrents and buffer zones staying in the middle of conflicting groups and the latter obliged the mediations. Now, both teachers and students have lost their past pride. In some cases, teachers bewildered their courage to perform duties appropriately, such as invigilating in examination halls, as they have become targets of miscreants for disallowing copying. Recently, a teacher of Govt. Shaheed Bulbul College, of Pabna Mr Masudur Rahman, was tortured by kicking, jabbing, slapping, etc. for not allowing a group of students to adopt unfair means at the examination hall. The news and video of assaults went viral in social-electronic-print media and sparked heated-voice that led to protest with the observance of rallies, meetings, lobbying with high officials, etc. Initially, some colleagues advised him not to rile with the occurrence, and to stay home and wait for compromise; such was the context! However, protests from all-corners forced the principal to file a case with the local police station against the accused, interestingly, dropping the mastermind.

Cadre batch-mates of the victim could manage to arrange a meeting with the honourable home minister; and with his instructions, the main accused was arrested with previously held two other assailants. Later, the honourable minister and deputy minister for education also displayed their affectionate concerns on the issue, the minister phoned the sufferer and learnt the incident and both the ministers assured that there would be no lacuna for the culprits. However, this does not happen in all cases, thus the best way is to take pre-emptive action to stop happening these types of occurrences. One of the pre-emptive measures will be strengthening the capacity of institutions' authority with trained and disciplined troops. Experiences run that if there were designated forces, many of the incidents like one of Mr Masud or Nusrat could have been averted.

The campuses of the educational institutions, specifically large campuses or campuses without boundary-wall remain little protected, as these institutions arrange security by day or night guards. The miscreants exploit this weakness and make the campus sanctuary to involve in anti-social activities. Likewise, these institutions possess precious equipment, money and materials, question papers, and private and government properties that need to be protected. Previously, there observed incidents of burglaries on campus with loss of properties. To prevent these, a group of campus security officials can protect the campus. Additionally, these security personnel will be assistive for securing question papers on campus and during transportations by relieving regular forces for other local and national important purposes. They may also be helpful to assist students to cross busy roads, control traffic in the surrounding areas, and supply intelligence reports.

Many, though, will raise questions- whether it is possible to secure campuses across the country by these proposed trained campus law-enforcers, as the problem positions in deep-substructure, as changes in the superstructure may not solve the evils. However, it can be asserted that the proposed campus police will ignite the necessary shifts, which may bring changes in the substructure; however, the reformation in substructure needs committed political decisions. Other stakeholders may ask that-is it innovative? If no, then how are they like? Furthermore, many may apprehend the proposed mechanism itself will be a problem. In response to these queries, it can be revealed that the campus policing is 100 years old practice focusing on security and watchdog services on the campus. However, here, the institutions are tackling security challenges with makeshift processes with the engaging of regular police force. Nevertheless, these polices with national duties are not trained adequately for dealing with students and campus-related problems; their deployment needs time, and their performance may hamper for their unknowingness of the geography of the campus. Moreover, the domination of the student's leaders of the ruling party always compels them to discharge their responsibilities having a particular focus on the general students or students supporting the opposition political ideologies. This is the brute realities that prevail in all most all the educational institutions in the country. 

Crime specialist Emily Owens of the University of Pennsylvania of the US suggested that the campus police perform collectively with institutional administration for the security of the students through following the loss reduction model of crime control. Bill Taylor, a veteran campus police officer, argued that the campus-police unit had become very common like dormitories, libraries, permanent faculties and departments. According to the 2011-12 survey of justice department of the US, 92% of the government colleges and universities with at least 2,500 students possessed armed police officers with authority to arrest. The statistics further revealed that the incidence of on-campus crimes decreased by 27% during the period of 2004 to 2011. The campus police remain accountable to the institutions’ heads or other high-officials under designated laws for recruitment, control and coordination with the local police station. Thus, the need for campus police in Bangladesh stands indispensable.

The discussions, clearly suggest that it is high time for the government to consider the implementation of the provision of a campus police battalion by enacting specific law for greater interests of education. Centrally, it will be under education ministry and locally, it will work under institutions’ heads. In necessary cases, there might have provisions to empower local authorities with magistracy power for operating mobile court. Through these, it is expected that the environment of the educational institutions will remain secure, pro-academic and student friendly. But, in order to translate this dream into a reality, a strong political commitment will be required. If the government could come out from the stereotype thinking of patronising their own student wing, they would be able to take such a bold decision of introducing the campus police. The enactment of laws and the formation of the campus police would fail to attain desired objectives if they are not given full freedom to discharge their responsibility. Thus, if the government considers to take such a decision that needs to be owned by them. Otherwise, like many attempts, such a noble initiative will also be a failure.  

Mohammad Jahangir Hossain Mojumder, PhD is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Political Science, Chowmuhani Government S. A. College, Noakhali, Bangladesh and Pranab Kumar Panday, PhD is a Professor of the Department of Public Administration and an Additional Director of the Institutional Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) at the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh.