Private colleges ask lawmakers to allow police department on campus

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Curtis Johnson grew up in Little Rock. He remembers learning how to drive on 16th street. Now, Johnson is chief of security at Arkansas Baptist College. "For me to be able to come back home after all the years I've been away and to be able to impact this neighborhood for the betterment is a blessing," saidJohnson.Everyone on campus knows the security chief. Students feel safer when he's around, but there's only so much he can do. He can't make an arrest or even patrol the neighborhood across the street. Arkansas law doesn't allow private schools to operate police departments, and Johnson believes criminals take advantage of that."I get the drug houses and I get a bunch of other activity, gang activity, throughout the neighborhood because there's no one there to police it," said Johnson.Through Johnson's efforts crime on campus has dropped 70 percent, but it wasn't enough to save the life of one the kids he protected. Derek Olivier, 19, was shot dead last year."It's always going to be imbedded in the back of my mind, that baby laying on the ground bleeding to death, and there's nothing I could do to help him," remembered Johnson.However, he believes there is something lawmakers can do. He asked for a police force during the 88th General Assembly but the bill died in a senate committee."In the process, I lose a student, haggling over words when we should have done the best thing we possibly could which is giving the best protection that we could," said Johnson.He was back at the capitol Thursday pleading his case once again."It's a challenge that I'm giving them. Can you deal with another student that's lying dead on the sidewalk in the middle of the city. We're 8 blocks from the state capitol. that's an indictment," said Johnson.The bill passed the House Education Committee with a unanimous vote.