The Law & You at Penn
December 20, 2011,
Volume 58, No. 16
The Division of Public Safety strives to deliver a comprehensive and integrated safety and security program to enhance the quality of life, safety, and security of the Penn Community. We also strive to ensure that members of our community are fully informed regarding safety and security services that are available to them.
This year, we completed the development of a brochure with the goal of providing crucial information to the Penn Community regarding their rights and responsibilities when it comes to interacting with the University of Pennsylvania Police Department (UPPD). This brochure, The Law & You at Penn, provides detailed information regarding interactions with the police, police procedure, and filing a citizen’s complaint.
It is our hope that it will become an invaluable resource to the Penn Community.
Keeping in line with Penn’s commitment to sustainability, this brochure is available electronically on the Division of Public Safety’s website (and below). You can download this publication along with several other educational documents by visiting: www.publicsafety.upenn.edu/media/publications/marketing/
The philosophy of the Penn Police is based on a community policing model, and at its foundation is the principle that safety and security is a shared responsibility. We believe this brochure will help all members of the Penn Community to fully take part in that shared responsibility. Thank you for your support of the Division of Public Safety and the UPPD.
I look forward to our continuing partnership in the years ahead.
—Maureen S. Rush, Vice President for Public Safety
The Law & You at Penn
Police officers know that even the most routine stop can be dangerous. Nationally, many police officers are injured or killed each year in the line of duty, including in many cases when they first approach a car or a person for what they think is a minor violation. Police officers do not know whether the persons they will stop are armed or dangerous, and therefore must treat each situation as if it could be a threat to their safety or the safety of others. Please keep this in mind if you are stopped by a police officer.
It is natural to feel nervous or defensive, especially if you feel you have been unjustly stopped. However, don’t assume that you have done something wrong. For example, you might match the description of an offender who just committed a criminal offense. To ensure that this offender doesn’t further victimize innocent community members, the UPPD must search for this person and stop anyone who matches the description of the offender.
To make things go as smoothly as possible, try to remember these points:
• Be polite.
• Speak clearly and answer all questions truthfully.
• Don’t argue with the officer.
• Avoid any action that could be perceived as a threat to the officer or others (i.e. abusive, threatening or antagonistic language or gestures).
• Don’t attempt to run or resist.
• Keep your hands visible.
• Don’t touch the officer.
But if you only remember one thing, it should be: stay calm. It is always our goal for the police officer to be courteous and respectful throughout the encounter. Policing an open, urban, multicultural and densely-populated university environment such as Penn requires at its core, a strong commitment to the philosophy of working in partnership with the community and residents to create a safe environment. Our police officers receive community policing training and their goal is to be as helpful to you as possible. During your time at Penn you may be approached by an officer who just wishes to say hello or offer you one of our many safety services.
The following example demonstrates why you could possibly be stopped:
Police receive information over the police radio that a robbery has just occurred in the area of 43rd and Locust Streets and the victim described the suspect as a male, approximately 6’ tall, in his early twenties, light facial hair, wearing a baseball hat, red shirt and white sneakers. You are a Penn student who is stopped by police because you happen to fit this description. Even though you are not doing anything wrong, the police do have the right and duty to stop and question you.
A police officer is legally allowed to stop you on the street if he or she has a reasonable suspicion that you were or will be involved in a crime. This suspicion must be based on the time, place, and/or a relevant physical description, including clothing, of persons involved in a recent crime. Physical descriptors can include race or ethnicity, but they shouldn’t be the only factors. With reasonable suspicion, the officer is also allowed to run their hands lightly over your clothes to determine if you are carrying a concealed weapon. Neither the stop nor the frisk is a violation of your rights.
When an officer finds stronger evidence that a crime has likely been or will likely be committed, he or she has probable cause to make an arrest on the spot. The officer can also make an arrest if a reasonable suspicion stop-and-frisk uncovers more evidence of illegal activity.
Penn Police officers are trained to fully explain to you why you are being stopped. In some instances the explanation may not be given until they have received pertinent information from you. If you are stopped or detained by an officer and you have a question, you should politely ask the officer why you are being stopped.
Remember: The officer may just approach you to have a conversation about an investigation.
If an Officer Comes to Your Door
You may think the only time the police will come to your house is to break up a party; however, there are other reasons they will come to your home, either on or off-campus. They may be responding to your phone call, or they may be there to gather information as part of an investigation, or to share information with you. There also may be situations that are more serious which will bring the police to your door. No matter why they are there, the same suggestions from above will be helpful to you; but, there are additional things you should know to best proceed when a police officer knocks on your door.
You have the right to…
• Verify that the individual is really a law enforcement official by requesting to see a badge and/or identification card.
• Make sure the officer(s) are at the correct residence.
• Politely ask the reason they have come, and for the person they are coming to speak with.
• In some circumstances police have the right to enter your home without your consent, if they have a warrant or are chasing an individual suspected of committing a crime who has entered your residence. A copy of the warrant will be shared with the owner or occupant.
• Body Warrant: the officers are seeking an individual and cannot search drawers and places not large enough for an individual to hide; or a,
• Search Warrant: permits officers to search all places in which the items listed on the warrant can be hidden.
If You are Arrested for a Summary Offense
Such as disorderly conduct, underage drinking, harassment, defiant trespass, etc.
You will be handcuffed, placed in a police vehicle, and taken to UPPD headquarters at 4040 Chestnut St. You will not be read the Miranda Warnings by the arresting officers; however, you are entitled to know why you are being arrested. Once you arrive at headquarters the officers may take away some of your personal belongings for safekeeping before you are placed in a holding room. The officers will complete the appropriate paperwork and present it to you for signing. Signing is not an admission of guilt: it is only a confirmation that you are in receipt of the documents. This paperwork will provide you information regarding the criminal charges and with the necessary information for appearing in court. If you fail to appear in court, a bench warrant will be issued for your immediate arrest. Your personal belongings will be returned upon your release.
If You are Arrested for a Misdemeanor or Felony
You will be handcuffed, placed in a police vehicle, and taken to the appropriate police facility. You will be read the Miranda Warnings by a detective prior to questioning, not by the arresting officers; however, you are entitled to know why you are being arrested. Once you arrive at headquarters the officers may take away some of your personal belongings for safekeeping before you are placed in a cell with the rest of the general arrested population. You will be fingerprinted, photographed (to establish your identity), and arraigned by a bail commissioner via CCTV, at which time you will be informed of the charges, bail, and future court proceedings. Only after the arraignment will you be permitted to make a phone call. Your personal belongings will be returned upon your release.
Filing a Complaint
The University of Pennsylvania Police Department’s goal is to improve the quality of services provided, to promote a high level of public confidence, and to enhance and maintain the professional integrity of this department and its members. That is, the UPPD and its members will perform their duties within the boundaries of established contemporary legal and ethical standards. The department has established and promoted these standards through clear, written policy statements, rules and regulations, and through the thorough and impartial investigation of all allegations of misconduct or complaints regarding the directives of the department.
A formal procedure to receive, document and investigate all citizen complaints allows the department to monitor and enforce standards. Behavior deviating from these adopted standards will not be tolerated. With a meaningful and effective procedure for handling citizen complaints, we believe citizen confidence in the integrity of the department and its employees has been achieved and maintained.
It is the policy of the department to accept, document, review, and investigate all instances of alleged misconduct. The focus of these investigations is to equitably determine whether the allegations are valid or invalid and to take appropriate action. All allegations of misconduct will be investigated, regardless of whether initiated by citizen complaint, other external agencies, internally generated, or discovered through the internal review and administrative processes of the department.
It should be understood that the department expects and receives the highest degree of integrity from its members. Anonymous complaints, or complaints from citizens who wish their names to be held in confidence, shall be accepted for investigation. Citizens offering anonymous complaints are advised that our ability to investigate the complaint may be limited by their anonymity.
Procedures for Filing a Complaint Against Police
All citizen complaints concerning alleged officer misconduct shall be documented and investigated by the department. Citizens who have complaints should expect action. All complaints shall be accepted in a courteous, understanding, and professional manner.
Forms are available in the following locations:
• Division of Public Safety headquarters, 4040 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
• Division of Public Safety website: www.publicsafety.upenn.edu
• Campus Resource Centers:
Greenfield Intercultural Center,
La Casa Latina,
Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH),
Penn Women’s Center,
Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Center
• Career Services
• Office of the Vice Provost for University Life
• Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)
• Office of the Ombudsman
• Office of Health Education
• Office of Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity Programs
Complaints may be submitted: in person, by telephone, fax, in writing, or online from the DPS website.
• In person: Please hand deliver to the Division of Public Safety headquarters, located at 4040 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
• By telephone: Office of the Chief of Police, (215) 898-4483
• Fax: Use the following number, (215) 573-7042
• In Writing: Send to the Office of the Chief of Police at the above address.
• Electronic Submission: Please go to the Police Complaint Form to fill out an electronic submission.
Investigation of Complaints
Upon receipt of a citizen complaint, the Office of the Chief of Police shall contact the citizen and advise him/her that the matter is under investigation. If necessary, the citizen shall also receive periodic status reports regarding the investigation. Upon completion of the investigation, the citizen will receive written notice of the final disposition of the case from the Office of the Chief of Police.
Questions regarding the UPPD Citizen Complaint Process may be directed to the Office of the Chief of Police, (215) 898-4483.
The primary responsibilities of the Division of Public Safety exist within the Penn Patrol Zone, which extends from 30th Street
to 43rd Street (east to west) and Market Street to Baltimore Avenue (north to south).