Beyond the Badge: Inside Notre Dame's fully sworn police department

Beyond the Badge: Inside Notre Dame’s fully sworn police department

NOTRE DAME, Ind. --- With the heart of Fighting Irish in our own backyard, Michiana is no stranger to celebrating some big game days and sporting Notre Dame.

What some may not know, is Notre Dame has its own police department of fully sworn officers.

This week on Beyond the Badge, Michiana meets the Captain of NDPD and what her day to day looks like.

Denice Koen is the Captain of Police Services for the University of Notre Dame Police Department.

“We have roughly 40 or so fully sworn officers,” Koen explained. “And then we have campus safety officers as well that work as dorm liaisons or safety inspection or campus and outreach. We do have patrol officers. We have a full Investigations Division. We have someone that's assigned for special details and events. And then we do have our canines they are vapor wake, so they don't bite. They're not drug sniffing dogs. They're just there to check for things that should not be on campus.”

NDPD officers are fully licensed in Indiana so they have jurisdiction in St. Joseph County.

“So we do go around the perimeter of our campus so Angela, 31, Douglas, Twyckenham, and the concept and the goal is to make sure that everyone is safe. We do have a lot of students that commute. Mostly you’ll see us doing traffic stops or backing up city or county officers when they’re doing traffic stops as well.”

The campus is divided up into four beats for officers.

“The same officer is assigned to the same beat so that our students, faculty and staff can get to know one individual person and build a connection. And we focus a lot on our students because without them, none of us would be here.”

NDPD also has officers that are on bicycles, focusing mainly on the quads and inner campus.

“We do some things that other departments wouldn’t do. We are a service and community-oriented police department, so we do building lockouts…if you left your ID card or your keys in your office we’ll help you go get them out. If you locked yourself out of your car, we help you get back into your car…jump starts...things that other police departments don’t necessarily have the time to be able to do, we make sure take care of our community members in that manner.”

"It's always a hyped-up day when there's you know, a major event on campus, whether it's a football game or a concert, and so the entire department works those days. So you'll always see a friendly face with us but we also work very well with our outside agency partners."

Notre Dame Police also do a lot of community outreach events, like ‘Pizza on Patrol’ or ‘Coffee with Cops’, just having conversations and letting people know that they’re on campus.

“They want to see us more frequently, they want us in their dorms, they want us in their buildings, they want us to interact with them so they can have a better knowledge of who we are and they feel safer when they can say ‘I know officer so and so.’”

Denice also knows all the in’s and out’s of the University. When students go home for the summer, the job doesn’t stop.

“We still drive around and walk around. We utilize that time to do a lot of training since there’s less people to serve on campus so we make sure that we get our training hours done.”

“Normally you don't see us unless it's for a bad thing. But we're also here to help celebrate your achievements and your positive aspects of life, not just to assist you with something bad that occurred. Seeing them be you know, 18-year-olds and kind of nervous and then see them fully blossom and grow emotionally and socially and with their career goals in mind and being able to watch them on their journey has been really rewarding.”

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