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Photo: Avalon Morell

The 120 officers of Penn's private police have their headquarters at the top of campus on the corner of 40th and Chestnut streets. 

According to the Penn Police Department, they're not only the largest private police force in Pennsylvania, they are also the second largest private police force for a private university in America.

Although it is quite common for a university with the size and scope of Penn to employ a private police force, Penn Police has more than triple the number of sworn officers than its closest neighboring institution in Philadelphia. 

Drexel University has only 38 sworn officers, which is more than 80 officers fewer than Penn's 120. Their police department was formed in 2010, while Penn Police is more than 40 years old. It is also located in the 16th district, a smaller patrol area with traditionally less crime than that of Penn, which is located in the 18th District.

The website for Temple University, located in North Philadelphia in the 22nd District, said its police force has more than 125 sworn officers that monitor the Temple area, although Temple officials could not confirm this number over the phone. The Temple University Police Department is publicly funded, which is why Penn Police is still the largest privately funded force in Pennsylvania.

Photo: Camille Rapay

In an emailed statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush wrote that the large size of Penn Police is meant to “support the ever-growing population of University City.”

“Over the past 20 years, the Division of Public Safety, including the Penn Police Department, has grown to support its mission of providing safety and security to the entire Penn community,” Rush said. 

She said the three mile patrol zone includes the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Medical Center, every college house, fraternities and sororities and the larger West Philadelphia community.

In the Ivy League, Penn Police has the largest number of sworn officers. The school with the second largest sworn police force is Yale University, located in New Haven, Conn., which has 89 sworn police officers as a part of their force. 

Brown University, located in Providence, R.I. has 53 sworn officers and Princeton University, located in Princeton, N.J. has 33 sworn officers.

Dartmouth College and Columbia University do not have sworn officers, but rather have security officers. A representative from Dartmouth Department of Safety and Security said the department has existed since Dartmouth’s establishment in 1769. Dartmouth currently has 35 security officers and works closely with the Hanover Police Department.

Harvard University declined to comment to The Daily Pennsylvanian about the size of their force for this article.

Due to regulations in New York, Columbia has 147 full-time security officers rather than sworn officers. These security officers have the ability to detain suspected criminals on University property, however they are not able to carry firearms or arrest individuals. 

The term “sworn officers” refers to members of a police department who have undergone police training and have the full authority of the law behind them. Unlike security officers, sworn officers can make arrests for offenses on campus because they derive their power from the state, rather than from a private company, and are considered commissioned police officers. 

At the university level, most “sworn officers” are not armed, yet, due to the necessary police academy training to reach that level, they have the ability to carry a weapon.

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