MILWAUKEE -- Marquette University established its own police force one year ago this week.
The campus and surrounding neighborhoods used to be patrolled by 52 armed security officers, 40 of them are now sworn cops.
"There was a lot of training leading up to and even throughout this year," Marquette University Police Chief Paul Mascari said.
Mascari said police officers can make arrests and pull drivers over for traffic violations. They also have access to databases where they can do criminal background checks on people or search for outstanding warrants. In the past, all those duties had to be handed over to the Milwaukee Police Department.
“It used to be very reactive,” Mascari said. “Now we’re much more proactive.”
Mascari said he believes the increased presence of police officers at Marquette also deters crime as people take note of the squad cars and flashing lights.
“People knew what our limitations were in the past,” Mascari said, adding that robberies in the police department’s patrol area are down 35 percent during this school year compared to the 2014-15 year.
Marquette student Jessica Kaplan said she’s noticed fewer crime alerts related to robberies coming in via email this year.
“I feel safer now knowing we have them there,” Kaplan said.
Mascari said MUPD still hands investigations into major felonies or sexual assaults over to Milwaukee police.
“The Milwaukee Police Department often works in collaboration with the Marquette University Police Department as a law enforcement partner,” said Milwaukee Police Sgt. Tim Gauerke.
Mascari said MUPD will continue to focus on traffic enforcement and reducing robberies in its second year of operation.