NYU Flag on Building

"Given the many questions raised about police and policing in recent weeks—both in the killing of George Floyd and others, and in response to protests—members of the NYU community have valid questions about the relationship between the University and NYPD. I'd like to try to clarify these matters.

"Unlike the case with some universities around the country, NYU does not have a standing contract for services with the local police department (in our case, the NYPD). There is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NYU and the NYPD that is required by the NYS Education Law. The MOU codifies the obligation under State law that NYU, as a New York State college, notify its local law enforcement agency—the NYPD—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. Most of their appearances on campus are as a result of direct 911 calls by members of the community.

"They are also a presence at a very small number of annual events, including our all-University Commencement, which is held in Yankee Stadium—a municipally-owned stadium where there is an established practice of having a police presence for large events, be they baseball games and other sporting events, concerts, or other major events or gatherings—and Move-In Day, where a paid detail of NYPD officers helps direct traffic on city streets—where NYU has no jurisdiction—where families are droping off students at residence halls at the beginning of the year.

"There are two points, in addition to those above, that are important to understand with respect to public safety and emergency response on our campus.

"First, 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. That's different from other universities' public safety or police departments (such as the University of Minnesota's Police Department), which have sworn officers able to carry out law enforcement and emergency response duties. The consequence is that in the event of serious emergencies or crimes at NYU or safety conditions beyond the scope of our Department of Public Safety, it would be the City's emergency services agencies, including the NYPD, that respond. 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.

"Second, NYU is also unlike many universities in that it does not have a closed campus that is its own property. 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."

Press Contact

John Beckman
John Beckman
(212) 998-6848