Why does the power of campus police go unchecked?

Listen 13:07
William Bess, 19, was apprehended by Temple Police and searched in 2017 when he was driving his parent’s car through the university’s neighborhood. He has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the Temple University Police Department.

William Bess, 19, was apprehended by Temple Police and searched in 2017 when he was driving his parent’s car through the university’s neighborhood. He has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the Temple University Police Department. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

William Bess, Jr. is suing the Temple University police department, saying he was the victim of racial profiling. Bess was 17 years old, driving his parents’ BMW a few blocks off campus, when he says he was pulled over and pulled out of his car at gunpoint. But when his family tried to file a complaint about the incident, they discovered that private campus police forces aren’t accountable to the public in the same way other police are — even though they have many of the same powers. Ryan Briggs, a reporter with WHYY’s PlanPhilly, explains on this episode of The Why.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.