Senate passes bill to establish police dept. at Marquette

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Marquette University is looking to beef up its Department of Public Safety -- and turn it into a full-blown police department. On Tuesday, March 11th, the Wisconsin State Senate passed a bill authorizing the university to move forward on this plan.

In 2001, Marquette's Department of Public Safety became a licensed detective agency -- which allowed officers to carry a gun.

About six years later, the department ramped up security across campus -- installing hundreds of security cameras monitored in a command center.

Now, Marquette is increasing its Public Safety Department's authority even more.

"It would enable our officers to make arrests and not have to wait for MPD to respond to an incident," Andy Brodzeller, Associate Director of University Communication at Marquette University said.

This bill passing will also open the door for Marquette's Department of Public Safety to have access to Milwaukee Police Department's information, so they can use it for their own investigations.

"A more efficient use of both university resources and Milwaukee Police Department resources and will it ultimately strengthen the relationship that we already have with Milwaukee Police Department," Brodzeller said.

"I think as long as they are working with our police chief and with the city's police chief that will allow for the kind of collaboration that I think is needed," Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) said.

"If they think it will help their students study safer, that makes sense. I went to UW-Milwaukee. They had their own police department and served us well," Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said.

Nico Villarreal, a junior at Marquette University says he can't see the downside to Marquette having its own police department.

"I think it will help out the crime. I think it will decline. Can't hurt it, having more officers on hand," Villarreal said.

Though the Senate passed the bill, it's not a done deal.

Marquette has to figure out how much this would cost, among other things.

If it does happen, it does not mean Milwaukee police would stop patrolling Marquette's campus.