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Guidelines for Interacting with Law Enforcement Officials


As part of our efforts to facilitate safety on Brown's campus, it occasionally becomes necessary for Department of Public Safety Officers to stop members of the University community and ask for information. Being stopped by an officer does not mean you are a suspect of a crime. To assist DPS in promoting a safe and secure environment, members of the University community are responsible for presenting their identification if it is requested.

What are my responsibilities?

Staff, faculty, and students at Brown University are expected to abide by Rhode Island state law, and to follow Brown University policy. We anticipate you will have positive experiences when dealing with Brown University officer, however, we feel it is helpful for you to have suggested procedures to follow. Brown Department of Public Safety commissioned (police) officers are authorized to enforce state laws and University rules and regulations.


At Brown University, there is a policy within the Standards for Student Conduct that covers interactions with officers, including the responsibility you have to present your identification when it is requested by a university official, including a DPS officer. If you do not present your identification when requested by an officer, you can be charged through the Office of Student Life Non-Academic Disciplinary Procedures in accordance with:

Offense VII: Failing to comply with the proper directive(s) of a University official, including refusing to identify oneself or refusing to present University identification to a University staff member, including members of the Department of Public Safety.


The Brown Human Resources Department offers a "Employee Identification Card" policy, HR Policy: 20:034, for all University employees explaining the expectations for the use of the Brown Employee Identification Cards.

As indicated in this policy, the University provides all staff with a "Brown Card" Employment Identification Card. Employees with valid Brown Cards are entitled to use a variety of campus services limited to Brown affiliates (e.g., libraries, athletic facilities).

The Brown Card remains the property of Brown University. It is entrusted to each staff member (while employed by the University) and retired employees. Most individuals are required to obtain a Brown Card if they use campus services. Cardholders may possess only one Brown identification card at a time.

The Brown Card must be presented when seeking access or privileges determined through the Brown University One Card System or upon request of a University official.

What should I expect if stopped by an officer?

Remember that the first few seconds of your encounter with a law enforcement official may very well set the tone for the interaction. You can expect:

-To be treated courteously.
-The officer to identify himself/herself when being questioned.
-The questioning to be as brief as possible.
-The officer to provide an explanation for the stop. However, it is important to remember that this explanation may occur at any time during the encounter as circumstances will vary.

If you are stopped by a law enforcment official, you should:

-Remain calm and respectful.
-Do not run or walk away from the officer.
-Comply with the officer's directives and identify yourself by presenting university identification.
-If involved in a motor vehicle stop, slow down and pull over as soon as possible. Keep your hands visible and turn on your interior light.
-Note the name of the officer(s) you had contact with.

Being stopped by an officer does not always mean you are a suspect of a crime. Try to recognize that the officer has a responsibility to protect the rights and safety of all persons and may be responding as a result of a call made by a concerned community member. Maintain your composure and wait for the right opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

The Department of Public Safety offers a variety of methods in which community members may submit feedback about their interactions with DPS officers. If you wish to share a compliment about an officer, we have a form to submit commendations. If you feel you were mistreated, or have a question about your interaction, our online forms can facilitate that for you.

It is important to remember that during an encounter with a law enforcement official is not the most appropriate time to attempt to address your satisfaction with the officer or the situation.