'Cops Are Cops': American Campus Police and the Global Carceral Apparatus

Author / Creator
Watkins, Grace
Part of
Comparative American studies, 2020-10, Vol.17 (3-4), p.242-256
  • Campus police in the United States are often discussed in terms of their domestic impact on college grounds and the surrounding neighbourhoods, but they have a lesser-known global impact as well. This article reveals how campus forces have attempted to shed their reputation as 'rent-a-cops' by establishing themselves as the leading global experts on campus security and participating in a wide range of projects designed to protect state interests. In doing so, campus police have positioned themselves as their own specialised branch of policing (rather than as merely subsidiary to municipal policing) and contributed to the construction of a global carceral apparatus. Campus departments' quest for legitimacy has manifested in the exchange of policing tactics between city and campus forces around the world through training sessions, networking events, and other collaborative programmes. As historians continue to uncover the global effects of policing in the United States, it is important to include the contributions of often overlooked private and quasi-public campus police departments. This article argues that campus forces used their unique status to take part in police assistance efforts abroad while also reproducing them in their own profession to construct the global campus security network.



  • Campus police
  • Historians
  • Legitimacy
  • Neighborhoods
  • Networking
  • Police
  • Policing
  • Tactics

Additional Information