URI to arm campus police

(Photo Credit: Dan McGowan/WPRI)

KINGSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The University of Rhode Island announced Monday it is moving forward with its plan to arm campus police. The decision comes after a year-long campus discussion with faculty, students and staff.

“Campus-wide discussions have provided critical feedback. In order to provide the safest environment possible and to ensure a timely response to any threat to the safety of our campuses, our police officers must be equipped properly to function as first responders,” said URI President David M. Dooley.

Arming campus police has been considered at URI over the years, but a renewed effort to engage the campus in a discussion of arming was initiated after the Chafee Social Science Center incident last year.

“Our foremost priority is the safety and security of every member of our community and we have taken many steps over the past year to enhance campus safety,” added URI President Dooley.

The university said all campus police officers are Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy graduates. These officers who will be allowed to carry firearms upon completion of all the requirements and training.

“While we do not expect all members of the community to be in favor of this decision, it is time to recognize that there is no school, college or university that can consider itself immune to threats or violence. We are committed to establishing the highest level of professionalism among the already seasoned police ranks,” said Christina Valentino, vice president for administration and finance.

Prior to this decision, URI was the only public state university in the country with a police force in which officers did not carry firearms. The university’s move will cost $150,000 upfront, plus about $23,000 every year after that. Student Seiji Abe says he doesn’t think the solution to gun violence is more guns.

“I understand their concerns, but i just don’t think it’s going to solve the problem,” he said. “I don’t think that’s how I want my tuition money spent.”

The implementation plan is set to begin in June. The university expects all elements to be completed for the start of the 2015 spring semester.

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