The Rhode Island Board of Education
80 Washington Street
Providence, RI 02903
Proposal to Arm University Police
It starts with a distressed 911 caller. There are multiple reports of a gunman at
Chaffee Hall through no one has seen the gun. Chaos and panic have taken over as faculty and students flee one of the biggest academic buildings on the University of
Rhode Island’s Kingston Campus. Sirens are heard speeding down the road, and the flashing blue lights indicate that URI police are on the scene. Officers rush out of patrol cars and quickly establish a perimeter. Their training kicks in and following protocol becomes instinctual. There are multiple reports of a gunman at Chaffee Hall. URI police are on the scene, but they cannot enter the building unarmed.
Rhode Island law states, it is the authority of the Rhode Island Board of
Education, to determine whether or not the campus police at public state universities should be allowed to carry firearms. Extensive research, campus crime statistics, and interviews with University Police, demonstrate the importance of an armed campus police force. The Board of Education must make campus safety a higher priority and take the necessary actions to begin the process of arming campus police officers at higher education institutions. Permission to arm the campus police at the University of Rhode
Island is sought for all fully sworn uniformed officers at each of the four campuses:
Kingston, Providence, Narragansett Bay, and Alton Jones. The University Police should
be granted the use of firearms in order to ensure the security of the campus, safety of faculty and students, as well as provide further protection to the University’s uniformed officers. The current safety policies and procedures in place are not enough to protect the
URI community in the face of an imminent threat. In today’s society, acts of terror and public attacks are common, with many assaults carried out by individuals living among the American people. Major Stephen Baker of the University Police Department at URI explained, there is no “academic veil,” on a college campus. Though security measures are in place, attacks or dangerous situations can occur on the grounds of educational institutions. In times of trouble, citizens depend on the nation’s law enforcement agencies to restore the safety and security of society. The University of Rhode Island’s uniformed officers are trained to protect the welfare and safety of those who access the campus. As graduates of the Rhode Island Municipal Training Academy, the University Police uphold an oath to secure the URI community and act in the name of justice. Though the police work with local and surrounding departments in serious situations, no one knows the URI campus better than those who took an oath to protect it.
Across the country, the American people have become accustomed to the notion that after tragedy comes change. Although safety measures are continuously updated, the
Board of Educators should not wait for an attack on the University’s campus before taking action. Domestic acts of violence have already tested the strength of this country.
On April 16, 2007, the Virginia Tech community experienced a harrowing act that forever changed the atmosphere of college campuses throughout the nation. Following
the massacre at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, assessments of campus security transpired on a national level. At the University of Rhode Island, a threat assessment team was assembled, biweekly meetings were instituted for the University officers, and a campus wide alert system was put in place. Safety measures such as these, centered on nonlethal preventative methods at the University.
As a public state university, it is the State’s responsibility to determine the lethal and nonlethal weapons campus police are permitted to carry while on duty. Currently unarmed, the officers of the university police department are