ND Supreme Court rules NDSU police cannot make off-campus arrests
BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that North Dakota State University police do not have the authority to make arrests off campus. The court's opinion, filed Tuesday, is a reversal of a Cass County District Court judgment. In th...
BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that North Dakota State University police do not have the authority to make arrests off campus.
The court's opinion, filed Tuesday, is a reversal of a Cass County District Court judgment. In that opinion, Judge Norman Anderson upheld NDSU Officer Ryan Haskell's right to arrest then-18-year-old Morgan Kroschel off campus for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Now, Justice Daniel Crothers writes, university officers can no longer make arrests outside their jurisdiction except to provide "temporary assistance and exchange of officers in unique situations and not on an ongoing basis."
This decision will affect all state colleges with police departments: NDSU, the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State College of Science, said Kroschel's attorney, Mark Friese.
Friese was pleased with the opinion, which he said echoed an argument lawyers have been making in similar cases since 2006.
"What's going to happen now is what the Legislature intended," he said. "We as state taxpayers have been paying, training and equipping salaries for campus officers to patrol on campus, and they're going to do that now."
Earlier in the case, the state Department of Transportation argued Haskell could arrest Kroschel, now 19, because a memorandum of understanding between Fargo police and NDSU granted him citywide jurisdiction, court documents said.
Citing this argument, a hearing officer suspended Kroschel's license for 180 days, and the district court upheld that suspension.
Kroschel, however, argued that under North Dakota law, the memorandum must be approved by the state Board of Higher Education, which it was not. The Supreme Court agreed.
"The MOU was deficient because it lacked execution and approval by the board of higher education and determination by the attorney general that the agreement is legally sufficient," Crothers' opinion said.
Further, Crothers wrote that North Dakota Century Code does not allow the board to enter into such agreements.
"We concluded the board may only authorize the employment of law enforcement officers at its institutions," his opinion said. "The Department does not offer nor do we find authorization for the board to enter its law enforcement agency into joint powers agreements outside its institutions."
The Supreme Court did not grant Kroschel's request for attorney's fees.
Friese said the ruling would not help those who have already pleaded guilty to charges that stemmed from off-campus encounters with NDSU police. Likewise, NDSU police will still be able to pursue incidents that begin on campus but end off campus.
But he said the decision should end "routine patrols" in off-campus areas of Fargo, including NDSU's sorority and fraternity houses.
On Tuesday afternoon, NDSU police and administrators met to discuss the ruling's implications, university spokeswoman Sadie Rudolph said.
Systemwide, Chief of Staff Murray Sagsveen is collecting campus agreements with local law enforcement and submitting them to the attorney general "to determine what legal options are available to provide the best possible security to each campus," he wrote in an email to presidents.
"It may be that it's a different situation," UND spokesman Peter Johnson said of their agreement with the city of Grand Forks. "Obviously, we want to make sure that we're acting in accordance with the laws."
Another question mark is how the court's ruling will affect the money paid in university tickets.
Under the memorandum, NDSU police have treated arrests as municipal ordinance violations, meaning fines and fees have gone to the city treasury, Friese said.
This has ruffled some legislators' feathers over the years, and Friese argues that money belongs in the state school fund.
"That's the issue still hanging out there. The Supreme Court did not address the legality of the diversion of these proceeds," he said. "I'm just hopeful the city attorney and state attorney and campus officials realize what they're doing is unlawful and they do it correctly."