Your Rights & Police Procedures

The Duke University Police Department provides comprehensive law enforcement services for 13,000 students and 32,000 faculty and staff. From special events to daily life, police and security officers patrol on foot, by vehicle and on bike every day of the year.

Duke police officers are commissioned under North Carolina General Statute and have the full range of police authorities granted any municipal law enforcement officer on property owned by and/or under the control of Duke University, including nearby streets and roadways.

At Duke, safety is a shared responsibility among students, faculty, staff and police. We offer these explanations to some commonly asked questions.

Duke Police & Security Officers

How do the roles of Duke police and security officers differ at Duke?

Duke police officers are University employees, commissioned by the state of North Carolina. They have authority to carry weapons, issue citations and make arrests just like municipal officers. Security officers are not typically armed and do not have authority to issue citations or make arrests.  Duke has its own security squad but hires private security to supplement staff. Security officers patrol the university on foot, by bike and vehicle, and report suspicious activity to police officers.

Presenting Identification

When must I present identification?

  • You are required to present your DukeCard to any Duke police or security officers upon request. 
  • If you’re driving a vehicle, you must carry and produce a driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance upon request.
  • If you are drinking or carrying alcohol, you must present identification that proves you are of legal age to drink. 

What are my rights if a police officer stops me?

Police officers may approach you to ask questions about a crime or other incident. Officers may not detain you for an unreasonable amount of time or take you anywhere against your will unless they have evidence to arrest you.

If I am suspected of drunken driving, do I have to take sobriety tests?

No. But if you refuse breath, blood or performance tests, your driver’s license could be suspended. Your refusal may be cited in court proceedings.

Property, Vehicle Searches

Can a police officer search me?
Yes. If officers have reasonable suspicion that you are carrying a weapon or illegal substance, they are permitted to “pat down” your clothing. Officers may also conduct a “pat down” for their safety or for the safety of others.

Can an officer search the car I am driving?
Yes. Officers may search a car without a search warrant if they have probable cause and information that a search will uncover evidence of a crime or illegal substance. If an officer requests permission to search your vehicle, you have the right to say no. If you decline, the officer may have probable cause to search without your consent or request a warrant to search your vehicle.

Can police officers enter residence halls or office space?
Yes. Officers do not routinely patrol residence halls or office space, but they may enter office areas and common areas of residence halls from time to time to respond to a call for assistance or investigate and deter crime.

Can police search my campus residence?
Yes. Under certain circumstances, officers may search your campus residence. You can give them consent to search, or if officers have probable cause to suspect a crime and you do not allow them inside, they may seek a search warrant.

If Charged With a Crime

What should I do if I am charged with a crime?
You are encouraged to seek legal advice. An attorney can advise you of options, including the first offenders program or deferred prosecution for those with no previous criminal history. A directory of local attorneys and helpful information for selecting one may be found by contacting the North Carolina State Bar.

Disciplinary Action (Students Only)

Could I receive university discipline even if I am not cited or arrested?
Yes. The Office of Student Conduct is responsible for holding undergraduate students accountable for academic and non-academic violations of university policy, whether on or off campus. The Office of Student Conduct may initiate an investigation that could lead to university discipline even if you are not charged. Graduate students are governed by their individual schools. For more info, contact the Office of Student Conduct at conduct@duke.edu or (919) 684-6938.

How does “amnesty” work?
Disciplinary action for a violation of the university’s alcohol policy will not be taken against students for whom medical assistance is sought, or against those who seek medical assistance for themselves or for others, provided that the student or group has not violated other university policies. If a student has been drinking and needs assistance or becomes a victim or crime, they can possibly qualify for “amnesty” and avoid university disciplinary action. However, amnesty does not preclude a police officer from taking enforcement action, though enforcement action is not typical in such situations.