URI President: Mass shootings elsewhere prompted changes with campus cops

KINGSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – The president of the University of Rhode Island said it was the concern over mass shootings – like the one at a movie theater in Lafayette – that prompted him to push for arming campus police.

Dr. David Dooley said it isn’t campus crime that worries him, “it’s a safe campus.”

“The campus is open as most university campuses are, it’s a welcoming campus,” Dooley said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “That always presents an opportunity – albeit very small – for some terrible incident to take place.”

In May the campus police force in Kingston began carrying firearms after months of training. A spokesperson for the university said of the 28 officers on the force, 26 carry firearms. Two opted not to have a gun.

Dooley said it was an April 2013 false alarm where someone thought they saw an individual carrying a gun that prompted the move.

“This came as a recommendation from the state police the attorney general and local police force loud and clear after that alarm,” Dooley said. “URI has to be prepared to be the first responder, [outside law enforcement] can’t get there fast enough.”

Prior to May, URI was the only public state university in the nation that did not arm its officers.

On Thursday John Russel Houser, 59, opened fire in a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater killing two women and wounding nine others before killing himself.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter: @TimWhiteRI

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