Police Arrangement Challenge Goes to ND Supreme Court

NDSU Police officers have the authority to make off campus arrests in the city of Fargo.
STOCK PHOTO | THE SPECTRUM
NDSU Police officers have the authority to make off campus arrests in Fargo but that authority is being challenged in the North Dakota Supreme Court.

A Sandstone, Minn., woman is challenging her February DUI charge and the subsequent suspension of her license to the North Dakota Supreme Court because she was arrested by an NDSU Police officer off campus.

Morgan Kroschel, 19, was arrested by North Dakota State University Police officer Ryan Haskell on Feb. 9 in the 1600 block of 10th Street North shortly after 1 a.m. for suspicion of driving while impaired. She was a freshman at NDSU at the time.

The case is one of several challenges to an agreement the school and the City of Fargo have that gives NDSU Police officers authority to make arrests inside city limits and not just NDSU’s campus.

A memorandum of understanding between Fargo and NDSU was signed in the mid-1990s updated in 2006, but lawyers for defendants facing charges as the result of an arrest made by a campus cop say the agreement is invalid, due to the fact the state legislature has not signed off on the agreement, which is required by the state constitution.

Fargo attorney Mark Friese, who is representing Kroschel, said the dispute isn’t over whether or not Kroschel was impaired driving but whether or not Haskell had the authority to arrest her outside of his jurisdiction. Friese filed an appeal to the state’s highest court on Aug. 26.

Lower courts have sided with Fargo and NDSU in the past, ruling that the MOU in place is valid and NDSU officers have the authority to make off-campus arrests because they are sanctioned by Fargo.

NDSU officials declined to comment on the case. The North Dakota Attorney General’s office, who is defending the state in the case only provided this statement: “This office does not provide comment on or information about ongoing cases.”

Fargo assistant city attorney John Loos said the case does not actually involve the City of Fargo.

The appeal is meant to overturn the suspension of Kroschel’s license. The suspension came as a result of her arrest but was handed down by the State Department of Transportation.

Loos said a criminal case is on hold until the Supreme Court makes its decision.

Kroschel’s attorney has several issues with the arrest, license suspension and the MOU.

Friese said money used to pay for the NDSU Police Department comes from the state, not Fargo.

In 2013, the majority of NDSU Police officers’ 75 DUI arrests were made off campus.

Friese said the money from fines associated with NDSU officers making stops in Fargo Police’s jurisdiction goes to the city, not the state.

“I think the majority of people in Bismarck would not be real pleased to learn that their  fees are going to Fargo,” Friese said.

“Fargo wants the NDSU police to do the work but take the money,” he added.

Fargo police chief Keith Ternes told The Spectrum in May that NDSU officers are not on regular patrols in the city. He said the agreement is mutually beneficial and is not meant to supplement Fargo’s police force.

Fargo does provide service to NDSU in the event of a more serious crime they are more prepared to handle.

Friese said since the university is in the City of Fargo they are already obligated to provide service to the university.

Friese argued in his filing with the Supreme Court that the state legislature has specifically limited the jurisdiction of campus police departments to its institutions.

The North Dakota University System was set to review agreements campus police have with municipalities in the summer, but NDUS ethics officer Murray Sagsveen said the review was put on hold pending the result of the Supreme Court case.

The NDUS’s Board of Higher Education has ultimate authority over campus police departments and has the power to abolish or create them.

Another issue brought up in the filings is whether or not the agreement is taking away from the university police’s ability to protect the campus.

Friese said if an NDSU officer is making off-campus stops and arrests, they are taking them away from the campus which is their primary duty to protect.

“As a taxpayer, I expect that the money I’m spending in providing for campus police protection will be used to protect my kid on campus not for a police officer to be 17 blocks away from campus patrolling residential areas looking for minor in possession arrests,” Friese said.

NDSU police patrol the main campus and three downtown buildings that are a part of the university.

There is no set date for when a decision will be made, but Friese said the case should be decided before the end of the year.

If Kroschel wins the appeal, the arrest and suspension of her license could be overturned.

After the case concludes, the university system officials will continue their review of the agreements and present their findings to the Board of Higher Education, who could decide to allow the agreements to stay in place or nix them.

NDSU, University of North Dakota and North Dakota State College of Science are the three schools with their own police departments. The other eight campuses have safety and security departments.

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