Rep. O’Brien reintroduces bill to arm campus police at CCRI and RIC
STATE HOUSE – Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) has reintroduced legislation mandating the arming of campus police officers at the state’s public colleges. Currently, the University of Rhode Island is the only public institution of higher education that has armed its campus police officers. URI instituted this policy in 2015. Representative O’Brien also notes that Brown University in Providence, a private institution, has campus police officers that carry firearms.
“This bill is about nothing more than the safety and protection of the students, faculty, and staff at our public colleges. I know this is a difficult topic for some to discuss, but in a world of active shooters and terrible tragedies determined by seconds and minutes, it is completely irresponsible for us to fail our students and staff by having to rely on off-campus law enforcement if the worst-case scenario should happen on our public campuses. I’ve been told that the response time to RIC if an active shooting situation where to happen is 5 minutes and frankly, that is way too much time for death and destruction to occur. Our campuses need a faster response and the only solution is armed campus cops,” said Representative O’Brien.
The legislation (2023-H 5299) calls for the training and arming of public campus police officers and would include campus police officers under the state’s “Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights” before October 1, 2023.
Representative O’Brien believes that RIC is an outlier by being one of the only public colleges in the country without armed campus police.
“Although it is utterly disturbing to acknowledge, active shooter situations are not going away in our society, and most often, targets of these vile crimes are schools. It is because of this that I believe police officers at both RIC and CCRI should be allowed to carry firearms in order to protect students, faculty, staff and the public,” said Representative O’Brien. “This is not a political or philosophical argument, but a realization of the troubling times our country currently faces. Total safety of the campuses is my only concern,” concluded Representative O’Brien.