Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Sewanee Police Department (SPD)?

The SPD is located next to Kappa Sigma (archives) and directly across from the Administrative Services building.

What is SPD's Jurisdiction?

The Sewanee Police Department provides 24-hours-a-day patrol protection to the campus, University property, parking lots, dormitories, fraternities, and sororities; as well as working in conjunction with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office to provide services to the surrounding Sewanee community.

Can SPD officers make arrests?

Sewanee police officers are vested with full law enforcement powers and responsibilities. All Sewanee officers are state certified and receive additional in-service training yearly; Sewanee Police have the power to arrest in the State of Tennessee.

How do I get a copy of a police report/ accident report?

Reports can be requested by contacting SPD. Please be advised that accident reports take a few days before they are available.

I received a citation. How do I pay or appeal it?

Payments can be made at the Treasurer's Office or a parking appeal may be submitted within 48 hours. The link to the appeal form can be found on Police Deptartment's main page.

I have lost my wallet. Who should I call?

Check the Lost and Found at the front desk of the Bishop's Common (ext.1201), duPont Library (main floor), as well as with SPD (ext.1111)

I was involved in an accident. What should I do?

If an ambulance is needed, dial 911 or 931.598.1111. Know your location when you dial to help police and EMS personnel locate you faster (Tip: look for cross streets and/or names of nearest buildings). It is recommended that names and insurance information is exchanged if multiple parties are involved in an accident.

What is the most common crime on campus?

By far the most common crime on campus that occurs is simple theft. The best defense against theft is not leaving your possessions unattended at any time. Lock your doors/ desks any time you leave no matter how short the absence will be.

What to do if you are stopped?

While there are no specific guidelines for citizens in dealing with police, the following advice is beneficial. We are not offering legal advice; The goals of the Sewanee Police Department are to protect and improve police-community relations. Understanding law enforcement concerns and practices will help prevent unnecessary confrontation and misunderstandings. Hopefully this information will help decrease your stress and anxiety during your contact with police and give some insight to the concerns of officers.

If You Are Stopped By The Police While In Your Car...

  1. Pull your vehicle over to the right as soon as you notice the officer's emergency lights.

    • You should pull over right away even if you are unsure of the reason you are being stopped.
    • You may have committed some minor traffic violation without realizing it or there could be a problem with your vehicle that you are not aware of.
  2. Remain in your vehicle while the officer approaches.

    • Exiting your vehicle does not assist the officer and may be perceived as a threat.
    • For the officer’s safety and yours, remain in your vehicle.
  3. Turn your interior light on if stopped at night.

    • Visibility reduces the officer’s concern regarding weapons or other possible threats within your reach.
  4. Keep your hands where they can be easily seen by the approaching officer.

    1. Reaching under your seat or into your glove box are actions that will cause the officer concern that you may be reaching for a weapon.
  5. Give your license, registration and proof-of-insurance to the officer if asked to do so.

    • Tennessee law requires a driver to turn over this information upon request.
    • Most officers will not provide a reason(s) for the stop until they have received your license, registration, and proof of insurance.
  6. If you wish to offer an explanation or ask why you were stopped, do so before the officer returns to his or her vehicle.

    • Answer all questions honestly. Information about prior arrests and/or traffic violations is easily verified.
    • Touching or threatening a police officer or acting in a disorderly manner could result in the additional charges and/or arrest.
    • If you are asked to step out of your vehicle, do so without any sudden or threatening movements.
    • Maintain a distance of approximately 3 feet of “personal” space .

Don’t Be Offended

Most citizens already realize that law enforcement is a difficult and dangerous profession. Hundreds of police officers are killed each year, and thousands more are injured and assaulted. For these reasons, police officers tend to be extremely cautious. They place a great deal of emphasis on officer safety and survival. Certain safety practices are instilled in our officers from the first day of their careers. Although the procedures maximize safety for the officer, they may seem standoffish, impolite, or offensive to citizens who may not consider such precautions necessary with “them.” Even though you have no intention of doing the officer harm, he or she will probably maintain a defensive posture until the officer feels that there is no risk of confrontation or injury. As far as police officers are concerned, there is no such thing as a “routine” traffic stop. Every stop has the potential for danger.

If The Police Approach You On The Street...

Innocent individuals are often offended or angered, or both, because an officer has detained them for questioning. Although the delay might be inconvenient for you, the officer believes there is a reason (reasonable suspicion) to stop you and ask questions. Most of these stops are not officer-initiated. The most common reasons that cause an officer to stop someone are as follows:

  1. You might be one of only a few people walking around in the vicinity of a crime that has recently occurred.

  2. Your clothing might be similar or identical to that worn by the perpetrator of a crime.

  3. Someone may have called the police complaining about your presence or that you looked “suspicious.”

  4. Someone may have pointed you out to the officer.

  5. You might be acting in a manner that the officer considers “suspicious” and you may act even more “suspicious” after realizing that the officer is observing you.

The police officer does not wish to detain you any longer than necessary. Once the officer is able to determine that you are not the individual that he or she is looking for, the officer will often apologize for the inconvenience and then quickly leave to resume the search.

In All Police Encounters...

Avoid making sudden movements (for your wallet, into your coat, toward your waistband, eta.) until you have informed the officer of your intention to do so and the officer has said it’s okay.

Do not carry weapons (real or otherwise) or even joke about having a weapon on your person.

Do not touch the police officer or violate his or her “personal” safety zone (2½-3 feet).

Remain calm and avoid being argumentative. (If you are uncooperative and refuse to answer reasonable questions, the officer is likely to become more suspicious and the encounter will probably last much longer than necessary.) 

Comply first, then you may seek an explanation from the officer or the officer’s supervisor later.

Summary...

There are times when citizens who have contact with the police come away with feelings of frustration or dissatisfaction. The Sewanee Police Department does not condone police misconduct of any type. In our experience, we have learned that those negative feelings are often a result of not knowing the reason(s) an officer has made certain requests or acted in a certain manner. Unfortunately, demands on a patrol officer do not always permit time for explanations at the time you are stopped. Hopefully, the information presented here will give you an understanding of police procedures and let you know what to expect from a police officer if you are stopped.