Fountain Walker, NYU’s vice president for campus safety, clarified in a campuswide message that although the university remains in contact with the NYPD to deal with serious emergencies or crimes, it doesn’t have any standing contract for services with the law enforcement agency.
Walker said the relationship between NYU and the NYPD is defined by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which is required by state law. Under the MOU, NYU must report to the local police within 24 hours in the event of violent felonies or missing students.
“As a rule, the presence of the NYPD is not common in NYU’s midst; they have no standing presence here,” Walker explained. “Most of their appearances on campus are as a result of direct 911 calls by members of the community.”
Walker added that NYPD officers would provide security at large university events, such as baseball games and commencement ceremonies, only because of the stadium where those events are held is owned by New York City.
“NYU’s Public Safety Department does not have ‘sworn officers’—that is, our Public Safety Officers have no law enforcement authority, no powers of arrest, and they are unarmed,” Walker said. “Universities with police departments with sworn officers may have options not to involve municipal police in emergency responses, but that’s not the case for us.”
Due to the university’s downtown location, according to Walker, it’s also impossible for NYU to keep NYPD officers off the campus.
“NYU is also unlike many universities in that it does not have a closed campus that is its own property,” he said. “Our buildings exit onto New York City streets, our ‘paths’ are New York City sidewalks, and there is a New York City public park at the center of things. Those public thoroughfares are the jurisdiction of the city agencies, including the NYPD, and not the University.”
Over the past month, multiple graduate student organizations issued a statement calling for the university to cut ties with and prevent the NYPD from operating on the university’s campus. An online petition urging NYU to follow the lead of the University of Minnesota while accusing the NYPD of “militarizing the peaceful protests” and “inciting violence” has gained over 25,000 signatures towards its 35,000 signature goal on Change.org.