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Public Safety

Police Operations



Police Operations is managed by a captain through the shift sergeants and corporals who supervise the individual shifts and processes. University police officers patrol university facilities, including academic and administration buildings, parking lots, athletic fields, and grounds. They patrol by vehicle, by bicycle, and on foot. Officers check in at residence- hall front desks but do not routinely patrol the interior of residential buildings unless requested to do so. They provide safety escorts for individuals on campus upon special request. Police Operations participates in managing all university special events that require university police officers. University police officers respond to all reports of crime, fire, medical, and other emergencies, and coordinate with the District of Columbia fire and police departments. Our on-campus police dispatch service coordinates officer response and communications for all emergency calls and requests for service. PSAs patrols and security cameras supplement officer patrols.

Police Authority

University police officers are commissioned law enforcement officers of the District of Columbia and have full investigative and arrest authority on university property. As commissioned officers, university police officers are sworn to uphold the Constitution and all laws and legal regulations for the United States and the District of Columbia. Furthermore, the officers are obligated as officials of American University to enforce university rules and regulations.

University police officers are permitted to stop individuals suspected of criminal activity and to request their name, address, business, and destination. Anyone failing to answer these questions to the satisfaction of the officer may be detained for further investigation. Resistance to detention may result in a more serious charge. 

Officers must be mindful of their safety while performing their duties. For this reason—and based on articulable suspicion of a potential threat—the law permits officers to search a person who has been detained to ensure that he or she does not possess a weapon. All university police officers are required to identify persons they suspect of being perpetrators of, or witnesses to, a crime.

Officer Training

University police officers attend an eight-week Campus Public Safety Institute program sponsored by the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. This comprehensive program provides valuable training in all aspects of university policing. Additionally, university police officers must successfully complete certification or recertification in such skills as CPR and First Aid. AU University police officers also receive other training, such as Incident Command, Defensive Tactics, Emergency Response, and Infection Control.

Memorandum of Understanding

American University Public Safety does not currently have a Memorandum of Understanding with the Metropolitan Police Department.