Friday Night Lights


Just after midnight and hours into his 10-hour shift, Sgt. Allen Grensteiner stepped back into his squad car after assisting an injured Stockbridge Hall resident.

Upon arriving at the scene of a traffic stop, Grensteiner received an emergency call that an individual required medical assistance at the all-male residence hall. With me in the front seat, the cop drove to the hall to locate the man who had fallen from his lofted bed and cracked his head.

The sergeant tended to the resident in his bathroom until his two fellow officers and paramedics arrived.

While Grensteiner was administering medical assistance, another resident noticed me taking note of what the officer was doing. He became frustrated, thinking I was reporting on the resident with a head wound.

“Are you for real right now?” the resident said. “Get the f–k out.”

Grensteiner intervened and took the agitated student into the hallway.

Out of earshot, Grensteiner told him I was there to follow what the sergeant was doing and not to report on the injured person. The resident would not calm down.

Grensteiner asked him if they had been drinking. The resident said they had, which prompted Grensteiner to ask for his identification.

Grensteiner and fellow officers gave him a breathalyzer test, which he failed. He received a minor in possession.

The officers and paramedics helped the resident with the head wound to an ambulance, where he was transported to a hospital.

Back in his squad car, we headed back to the NDSU Police station, where upon arriving he attempted to contact the injured resident’s emergency contact as both the North Dakota University System and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act require him to do.

It was just another Friday night for the NDSU Police.

Usual shifts

On a normal night, Grensteiner said the most common call NDSU Police officers generally serve are public assists and calls from parents looking for their children whom they have not heard from in a few days.

He also said marijuana calls to residential housing have become more frequent due to marijuana compatibility with electronic cigarettes.

It depends on the night, Grensteiner said, “Some Fridays you go call to call. Other Fridays you can hear crickets.”

Grensteiner added as the night progresses, an increase in the amount of foot traffic around campus generally occurs.

NDSU Police officers do periodic walk-throughs of campus properties to ensure the buildings are secure and that there are no people present who should not be, Grensteiner said.

On Friday, Grensteiner walked through the Sanford Health Athletic Complex and Shepperd Arena, the latter of which is open 24 hours due to Little International.

NDSU Police officers also perform and assist in traffic stops to ensure motorist and pedestrian safety. Friday, Grensteiner drove around campus with his radar on, checking to make sure all motorists were driving a safe speed. Grensteiner did pull over and issue a warning to a motorist for running a stop sign Friday after making sure the motorist’s information checked out. He also assisted in three other traffic stops.

All NDSU Police officers are assigned as a liaison to a specific residence hall, Grensteiner said. Grensteiner in particular was assigned to the Mathew Living Learning Center.

He said the LLC can be difficult, as there may be residents living there who are over the age of 21, yet alcohol is not allowed on campus property.

“We’re not here to ruin anybody’s fun; we just want to make sure everyone is safe,” Grensteiner said.

The sergeant has been with the NDSU Police since 2009. A former Mandan police officer, Grensteiner moved to Fargo with his wife, who is a second grade teacher in the area.

He was promoted to corporal about two years ago, and then promoted again to sergeant about a year ago.

Grensteiner, like his fellow officers, was working one of his four days in a row on patrol Friday night. While most nights are quiet, his patrol is a college campus.

He said he’s seen “three passed out guys in togas.”

Department jurisdiction 

A state supreme court ruling recently confined NDSU Police jurisdiction from a citywide scope to only NDSU-owned property.

“It’s tough,” Grensteiner said about the new lines.

NDSU Police officers have jurisdiction on downtown NDSU properties, but not between the main campus and downtown.

They also have jurisdiction on 12th Avenue North until the sidewalk across the street, and in the T Lot, but have no jurisdiction on the Bison Block.

NDSU Police technically also has jurisdiction at the Fargodome, but the Fargo Police Department generally takes over as the NDSU Police lack the manpower to control the various large events.

The university’s police collaborate with the FPD often. When Grensteiner first joined NDSU police, he did his training through the FPD.

Every traffic citation NDSU Police write also goes through FPD, as NDSU Police write a city ordinance that FPD processes.

Parking tickets however are processed by NDSU. Parking tickets used to be processed by the FPD, in which cars would become delinquent on campus for exceeding a certain dollar amount and NDSU Police officers would spend the majority of the day towing delinquent cars, Grensteiner said.

The computer systems in all NDSU Police cars operate on the New World System, which syncs NDSU Police with all other Fargo-Moorhead and Cass County emergency personnel.

Final thoughts

Through riding along with Grensteiner, I learned NDSU Police officers do more than bust parties and give kids minors.

I never really realized just how much work goes into keeping the NDSU community safe, but I’m quite thankful that there are people there to do so.

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