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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is your department a security or police department?

  2. What is the difference between a university police officer and an officer or deputy sheriff in my hometown?

  3. How large is the University Police Department?

  4. Am I allowed to have a firearm on campus for hunting or protection purposes? Will the university police store a firearm for me?

  5. How safe will I be on campus?

  6. If my car breaks down, will a university police officer help me?

  7. I am interested in obtaining a degree that will help me become a police officer. May I do an internship at the university police department?

  8. I am a student who needs financial assistance to attend Mississippi State University. Do you offer student employment?

  9. I am a parent whose son or daughter will be away from home for the first time. I am concerned about any potential problems they may incur. Is there anything I can do?

  10. Where can I find the current list for sexual offender/predators who live in my area?

  11. How can I get a copy of a police report?

  12. What happens when I discover a theft or other crime?

  13. How do I report an emergency or crime?

  14. I was a victim of a crime. What should I do?

  15. If I witness a crime or suspicious activity, what should I do?

  16. How can I get information on crime statistics and safety tips?

1. Is your department a security or police department?

For many years, our department was referred to as a security department. Even today, some people still refer to us as "security". However, in the mid-1980s, we transitioned from a security to a police department. We offer many of the same services as traditional law enforcement agencies. We also have officers on-duty 24 hours-a-day throughout the entire year. If you need to obtain information, report a crime or traffic accident, or have any needs for which we can provide assistance, please call us at extension 5.2121. If you need to report an emergency, serious traffic accident, or a crime in progress, please call us on the 911 emergency telephone line.
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2. What is the difference between a university police officer and an officer or deputy sheriff in my hometown?

There are more similarities than differences. University police officers must undergo a stringent screening process before they are employed. In many cases, our screening process is more stringent than those found with other law enforcement agencies throughout the state. Once employed, a university police officer must attend a regional police academy where he or she trains along with law enforcement officers from municipal police departments, county sheriffs' departments, the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and other local or state law enforcement agencies. Once a university police officer has successfully completed the academy, the Mississippi Board of Police Standards and Training certifies him or her as a law enforcement officer. This board oversees law enforcement certification for all law enforcement officers in the state of Mississippi.
However, there are some noticeable differences. In addition to academy training, a newly employed university police officer must complete a 12-week field training officer program. This program integrates the academy training into practical work experience that prepares the officer to work on his or her own. Not all law enforcement agencies offer this program. Also, we have found where the university police department provides more in-service training for its officers than many other law enforcement agencies throughout the state. Finally, in addition to enforcing state laws, university police officers are also responsible for assisting in enforcing university parking rules and regulations, Housing Department rules and regulations, and the Student Code of Conduct.

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3. How large is the University Police Department?

The University Police Department has an authorized strength of 32 police officers and 13 support staff. This does not include student employees. Currently, there are six officers assigned to each of the three shifts (day, evening, midnight), and one officer assigned as a crime prevention coordinator. The remaining officers are assigned to administrative or investigative duties. Support staff functions include police dispatchers, parking clerical staff, parking enforcement personnel, and secretarial staff.

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4. Am I allowed to have a firearm on campus for hunting or protection purposes? Will the university police store a firearm for me?

No. It is a felony for a student to possess a firearm or weapon on campus. State code § 97-37-17 prohibits the possession of firearms on campus except in very rare cases. Additionally, university policy and rules prohibit the possession of firearms on campus. Individuals found violating this law and rules are subject to arrest and/or referral to the Dean of Students. beause of this prohibition, the university police are not allowed to store firearms or other weapons.

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5. How safe will I be on campus?

Being safe means different things to different people. Some people measure safety by the amount of crime on campus. Typically, most university and college campuses experience less crime than their surrounding communities. Our crime statistics and a comparison with those of the Starkville Police Department and Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department are available for review at http://msuinfo.ur.msstate.edu/crime/stats.htm

The university police department, along with other university departments, has implemented a number of programs and features to assist with safety. These include:

  • Emergency telephones located around most residence halls
  • An escort program - dial 5.2121 on campus
  • Crime prevention programs presented in the residence halls and at other locations upon request.
  • A Rape Aggression Defense Program that is frequently offered for female students and staff.
  • Officers patrolling many walkways and parking lots in vehicles, on bicycles, and on foot.

Representatives from the police department serve of various university committees that constantly review safety issues. These committees include the Campus Lighting Committee, Campus Safety Committee, and Campus Traffic Committee.

One full-time officer is assigned to each residence hall to provide resident students with crime prevention and safety information on request. Additionally, a full-time crime prevention coordinator is available to provide information or present programs.

However, being safe is often based on common sense and following those well-known rules that your parents and others have taught you. This includes:

  • Don't trust strangers
  • Always travel with those you know
  • There is safety in numbers
  • Don't leave valuables unattended (not even for a minute)

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6. If my car breaks down, will a university police officer help me?

University police officers are not trained mechanics or locksmiths. However, they will try to offer assistance to any stranded motorists. Services are limited to attempts at jump-starting your vehicle or helping you gain access to your vehicle if you have locked yourself out.

Generally, the complexity of late model vehicles requires a person with special training and who is bonded and insured to reimburse the motorist for any damage that may be caused to their vehicle while it is being serviced. While the university police department cannot offer this level of service and protection, there are many garages and service stations in Starkville that can assist you when you have a problem with your vehicle. We recommend that you ascertain what motor clubs are recognized by the local garages and service stations and obtain a membership in one of those clubs.

Regardless of whether a university police officer can assist you with your vehicle's problem, we recommend that you call and notify us of your situation. If you have concerns about being stranded in a remote area, a university police officer can transport you to another campus location of your choice while you await assistance.

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7. I am interested in obtaining a degree that will help me become a police officer. May I do an internship at the university police department?

The university police department accepts a limited number of internships each semester. If you are interested in applying for an internship, please make an appointment with the Chief of Police at least one semester before the semester that internship begins.

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8. I am a student who needs financial assistance to attend Mississippi State University. Do you offer student employment?

We offer a limited number of work-study positions through the Library patrol. These positions work in the evening and provide personal escorts to students. These positions require walking and working out-of-doors. Generally, we hire students at the beginning of the fall and spring semester. If you are eligible for work-study assistance and interested in a position, please contact the Law Enforcement Services Captain at extension 5.1811.

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9. I am a parent whose son or daughter will be away from home for the first time. I am concerned about any potential problems they may incur. Is there anything I can do?

Moving from home and being on your own for the first time is a major life step for most young people. They must accept a higher level of responsibility for their behavior and safety. This is part of the maturation process through which they become responsible adults.

One thing parents can do to help their son or daughter successfully progress through this process is to remain involved. Parents may wish to consider the philosophy that is practiced by many student affairs departments: support and challenge.

Young people need support to help make good decisions or address issues in a responsible manner. Parents should stay in contact with their student(s) and discuss important life issues such as the use of alcohol, tobacco products or drugs, dating, or personal safety. Students should be encouraged to contact the police department with any questions or problems they may have. A good contact is the Crime Prevention Coordinator at extension 5.9149.

However, young people also need to be challenged to take responsibility for their lives and actions. Parents are encouraged to help their student(s) make good decisions. Part of the adult learning process is for students to understand there are consequences associated with bad decisions. This includes decisions that result in unacceptable behavior. Parents should constantly remind their student(s) of this fact and that the student(s) can be accountable to parents, the university, and themselves.

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10. Where can I find the current list for sexual offender/predators who live in my area?

In order to view those individuals who have been reported to the Mississippi Department of Law Enforcement from the Mississippi Department of Corrections as being sexual offenders or predators, simply click on the link below and follow the instructions as indicated. This database provides what is perhaps the most current list available for this information. Mississippi State University currently uses 39762 as its primary zip code and a search can be completed for that specific zip code. All other inquiries can be made for either Oktibbeha County or the specific zip code for your area. The web site address for this information is: http://www.sor.mdps.state.ms.us/

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11. How can I get a copy of a police report?

If you wish to get a copy of a police report, you need to contact the Records Section of Mississippi State University Police Department at 325-5025. A standard fee of $5 is charged for reports.

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12. What happens when I discover a theft or other crime?

Reports of theft or other crimes are reported to University Police for investigation. Resident assistants play a major role in reporting criminal activity in the residence halls and are required to keep a log of incidents occurring during their shifts. When appropriate, staff from Housing or Student Affairs may be involved in answering a call for assistance.

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13. How do I report an emergency or crime?

Contact the University Police by calling 5-2121 from a campus phone or 325-2121 from a housing / apartment phone outside campus. In an emergency, call 911 from any phone. Be prepared to give:

  • your emergency or nature of call
  • your location (know where you are)
  • who you are
  • any suspect information available
  • and answer any other questions the dispatcher has

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14. I was a victim of a crime. What should I do?

If you are a victim of a crime, notify the University Police immediately. Call 911 for emergencies and call 325-2121 for non-emergencies. Do not disturb any evidence. Information that would assist police in resolving the case:

  • name of victim
  • exact location of the incident
  • injuries or need for medical attention
  • description of the scene
  • description of any suspect
  • description and license numbers of any involved vehicles

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15. If I witness a crime or suspicious activity, what should I do?

If you witness a crime or suspicious activity, notify the police immediately. Call 911 for emergencies and call 325-2121 for non-emergencies. Do not disturb any evidence. Information that would assist police in resolving the case:

  • name of victim
  • exact location of the incident
  • injuries or need for medical attention
  • description of the scene
  • description of any suspect
  • description and license numbers of any involved vehicles

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16. How can I get information on crime statistics and safety tips?

The University Police Department publishes a compilation of campus crime statistics each year. This information is available online by visiting our Crime Statistics page. If further information is required, please contact the crime prevention coordinator Thad Edwards at 325-9149.

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