By Michael Freeman, Managing Editor
Students living off campus may soon see ACU Police vehicles patrolling through their neighborhoods. The ACUPD expanded its jurisdiction in April after renewing its four-year adjunct police agreement with the Abilene Police Department.
“We adjusted the boundaries to better reflect our constituency in our service area,” said Jimmy Ellison, chief of ACU Police Department.
Before April 1, the ACUPD patrolled the campus, as well as the immediate surrounding neighborhoods. The department’s jurisdiction reached as far west as Will Hair Park, as far north as I-20, as far east as Griffith Road and as far south as E.N. 10th Street. But as more incidents involving ACU students continued to occur farther away from campus, both the ACUPD and the Abilene Police Department agreed the expansion was necessary.
Now, the ACUPD – with its 13 full-time police officers – will patrol as far west as Cottonwood Street, as far north as East Overland Trail, as far east as Union Lane off of Highway 351 and as far south as East Highway 80.
“The deal with ACU is pretty much a win-win deal,” said Keith Shackleford, commander of the Community Services Division of the Abilene Police Department. “We have a really good working relationship.”
At any given time of day, about two dozen Abilene Police Department officers are patrolling the city, responding to 10-20 calls collectively each day. In a city covering more than 110 square miles, patrolling can be tricky, Shackleford said. The agreement between the Abilene Police Department, which is comprised of about 250 employees, and the ACUPD is meant to supplement each other’s forces to work together to patrol areas and reduce response times to emergency calls.
The ACUPD has been pursuing redistricting its patrol borders since last semester, but it kept getting delayed because of the lengthy legal process of redistricting the jurisdiction.
Despite the delay, Ellison said the expansion will better serve the ACU community.
“Conceivably, it can give you a much quicker response time,” Ellison said. “If you’ve got Abilene Police cars patrolling the whole city, and a burglary in progress gets reported here, well, the nearest Abilene Police car could be 10 minutes away. We’re always going to be in this area.”