CAMPUS SECURITY OFFICERS may be your friends one day, your enemies the next. They'll help you out if you've just had your backpack or car stolen; but they'll also haul you to jail if you've been smoking dope or dancing naked and drunk on your dormitory rooftop.

So be both comforted and forewarned: These people are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. And they'll be watching you.

The University of Washington: With dormitories, cafeterias, and office buildings, the UW functions as a city within a city: Roughly 55,000 people mill about campus during a typical school day, and every one of them needs protection. Consequently, the UW Campus Police boasts 51 sworn, armed cops. If you dial 911 from any dorm or college building, it goes to the campus police, not the Seattle Police Department.

Randy Stegmeier, the campus police department's patrol commander, has a hard time concealing his pride in the quality of his officers. He won't draw a direct comparison to certain inferior police departments in the area, but he stresses that his officers have real book smarts. "[Our officers] probably have one of the highest education levels of any police department in the state. We all have a four-year college degree, and many of us have more." Many cops work for UW so they can take advantage of the academic environment, Stegmeier says.

Still, the UW's sheer size means campus officers are faced with big-city problems. The recent murder of UW pathologist Rodger Haggitt was, according to Stegmeier, the fifth or sixth murder that's occurred on campus in 28 years. More often, the cops are dealing with basic theft--bicycles and wallets.

Seattle Central Community College: Although they are not sworn officers, the college's Campus Safety and Security employees go by paramilitary titles--officers and sergeants.

Located smack dab in the middle of Capitol Hill, SCCC deals with everything that makes Capitol Hill a challenging place to live. "Mostly we handle transients, alcohol and drug violations, and [the occasional] disruptive student," says Officer Gary Talcott. Talcott reports that most thefts occur in--of all places--the college's library.

Seattle University: SU has a more comprehensive security plan than most schools its size (about 6,000 students). Although the university relies on 15 full-time security guards to keep the rowdy Jesuit populace in check, it also uses 20 to 25 students to help keep the campus safe. The students, dubbed "Roving Resident Living Patrols," provide escorts for visitors and other students on campus. They also respond to fire alarms. Sporting dark blue polo shirts, radios, flashlights, and a set of keys, the "living patrols" (do not call them goons) look like real security, too. The only thing missing from their uniform is a cool .9 mm Glock, but they can at least take comfort in the fact that regular SU security don't get guns either.

Bellevue Community College: The officials at Bellevue Community College rely on eight non-commissioned, full-time officers, four part-time officers, and a security camera system for peace of mind. Nancy Hilliard, the college relations director, pours on the P.R. by stressing how safe the campus is: "We've never had a murder. We've never had a rape. We've never had a sexual assault [she later backtracks and adds 'reported' in front of 'sexual assault']. Last year we didn't have any burglaries, which is a miracle." Despite the serene environment, Hilliard notes that campus guards--and the cameras--are on duty non-stop.

Cornish College of the Arts: "We lock all of our buildings at 11:00 and they're ALL alarmed," warns David DeMoss, director of Cornish's campus services. Five guards (four full-time, one part-time) make up the security for this tightly knit private school. Security is in charge of the usual stuff: locking up doors, securing windows, and making its general presence known. The 600-plus students usually know who's who, though, so there's rarely any problems. If anything, Cornish's security is about pampering those who pay the fat tuition fees. The school offers a van service to many parts of Seattle, and one of the officers is in charge of driving.