Waco’s City Council approved a new ordinance Tuesday allowing Baylor Police to now enforce traffic laws on university private streets. The approval is pending from the Baylor Board of Regents.
The 2015-572 ordinance states the enforcement of traffic laws of Chapter 545 of the Texas Transportation Code restricting or prohibiting the operation or movement of vehicles on roads of Baylor University.
Chapter 545 of the Texas Transportation Code includes moving violations such as speeding, driving on the right side of the roadway and passing, following distance, and signaling turns; among various other laws listed.
Baylor’s Chief of Police, Brad Wigtil, said by adopting and implementing Chapter 545 of the Texas Transportation Code, the Baylor Police Department is able to have the option of issuing a ticket either through the Baylor University system or through the Waco Municipal Court.
“It gives the Department of Public Safety some leverage that if someone is speeding I can give them a citation in the Waco City Court,” Wigtil said. “So when we stop people who are not affiliated with Baylor University, we would write them those tickets instead.”
Waco City Attorney Jennifer Richie said the ordinance was brought to the city council in order to help create a safer environment for the Baylor campus and it’s surrounding streets.
“The city was asked by Baylor to consider passing an ordinance that is allowed in the Texas transportation code that will allow a private university to enforce traffic laws on its streets, on Baylor’s private streets,” Richie said.
Wigtil added that Baylor’s police department decided to bring up the ordinance to Waco because of the growing concern of safety surrounding Baylor’s campus and community.
“It wasn’t a specific incident that happened, I think it was somewhat based on my 20 years of campus university law enforcement in other institutions,” Wigtil said. “I thought this could be available to help keep the community safer in regards to the influx of bikes, mopeds, vehicles pedestrians.”
In addition, Richie added that maintaining road safety is important to Waco and so having Baylor assist with this is something that would be useful.
“This ordinance only allows Baylor to enforce on Baylor’s private streets, so one of the reasons why our council considered it was we felt like it would promote the safety of the City of Waco and Baylor University,” Richie said.
Wigtil said that when he became chief of police on Baylor’s campus he began to do research on how to enforce the Texas Transportation Code violations on Baylor’s private roadways. As a result, he said he found section 600.003 in the Texas transportation code, which allows a city to approve the enforcement of traffic laws of Chapter 545 of the Texas Transportation Code.
When addressing the question of what the process is going to be and how this ordinance will take effect on Baylor’s campus, Wigtil said that it would still have to be approved by Baylor’s Board of Regents. Once the board of regents approves it, the Baylor Police Department can cite moving violations.
Wigtil said the implementations of this new ordinance on Baylor’s campus are simply about communicating to the students, faculty and staff about this change and policy.