The director of the Idaho State Police has rescinded permission for the use of red lights on security vehicles at Idaho State University.
Col. Ralph Powell in a letter obtained by the Idaho State Journal and cited in a story on Monday orders the suspension of the use of red lights on campus patrol vehicles.
Powell in the letter to Idaho State University Public Safety Director Steve Chatterton dated Dec. 17 cites information that campus security has been using the red lights to stop motorists, going beyond the authorized use of activating them only to alert traffic.
“It has been brought to my attention that ISU campus security officers are using their campus security vehicles with red lights to conduct traffic stops on and around ISU campus property for traffic violations and field interviews,” Powell wrote. “Evidently these officers are also issuing ISU traffic citations to students and using Idaho Code for the violations on citations.”
The school previously said it obtained permission in 1996 from former Idaho State Police Director Robert Sobba to use red lights. However, Powell said the use didn’t include traffic stops.
“Based on your failure to contain use of your campus security vehicles equipped with red lights to the authority granted, I find it necessary and prudent to rescind Director Sobba’s letter to you dated June 4, 1996,” Powell wrote. “You are no longer authorized to use red lights on campus security vehicles.”
ISU Vice President for University Advancement Kent Tingey says the school will comply and has ordered amber light bars for the public safety patrol vehicles.
Pocatello Police Chief Scott Marchand in November expressed similar concerns about university public safety officers exceeding their authority. In that instance, Pocatello city attorney Dean Tranmer in a letter to the school asked that campus security stop making traffic stops on city streets.
“For anything other than university rules and regulations, it is purely the responsibility of the Pocatello Police Department and other qualified law enforcement agencies to enforce, investigate, cite and arrest,” Tranmer wrote in that letter.
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