Thursday, April 24, 2008

Guns at GW?

The Hatchet reports that the UPD chief is in favor of arming UPD officers:
University Police Department Chief Dolores Stafford recommended in a national safety report she co-authored that college police officers should carry firearms.
Next time a student tries to get into HelWell without a GWorld, perhaps UPD can just pull out a gun and threaten to shoot.

I understand that following a couple of school shooting tragedies, people are reevaluating college security policies:
The study found that during the 2004-2005 academic year, nearly 90 percent of universities that employed sworn officers armed them as well.

"The officer needs to be able to have the tools to defend themselves or a third party," Thrower said. He said that especially in the wake of campus shooting incidents like Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, many college campuses are reevaluating their policies and are in the process of arming their police departments.

However, GW is a slightly different case. We have MPD, the Secret Service, and other security agents in the area. They are all extensively trained in the use of firearms . UPD deals mainly with students, and I have yet to hear about an incident on campus that required armed law enforcement officials.

Besides my natural liberal inclination to assume that arming people leads to more violence, there's the more practical question: "Guns or Butter?" Does GW really need to be spending money on arming UPD officers when there are Hatchet headlines like "Intelligent Students Decrease"? We're a university. Money should be going towards research, academics, student organizations, etc. Safety is a priority, but if the school wants to spend more money on safety, perhaps they should concentrate on the drunk students throwing things from windows.


Anonymous said...

I doubt that arming a small number of UPD officers would be all that expensive; some of them are/were law enforcement officers or military vets with prior training. A Beretta 9mm or something compareable runs $600, which can probably be shared among shifts. A two step basic + advanced NRA training class will run about $300 to $500; the price may vary of Metro PD sends the guys out the police academy in Anacostia.

While I agree that arming the 'red patch' UPD officers, who are often little more than glorified security guards, is a very bad idea. Arming a few officers to spread around different shifts would be prudent. If a Virginia Tech-like event occurs on campus, having UPD officers on site while MPD gets called, dispatched and assembled on site could mean the difference between one dead and many more dead.

Anonymous said...

Did you know they have an honor guard...;7334/


Anonymous said...

Red patches are security guards not sworn law enforcement officers (Special police officers) they would never be armed (I believe it would be illegal under District law.)

The cost to arm the sworn officers with handguns and probably some shotguns and assault rifles for patrol vehicles would be small for the hardware. From my reading in a recent Wapo article it is possible that as Special Police officers UPD would be restricted to carrying revolvers not semi-automatic pistols, under the Districts asinine gun laws. It is possible this is superseded by the campus law enforcement legislation that governs UPD however you would have to look into that more.

Regardless revolvers are very cheap as are Glocks which is what MPD carries. As a bulk purchase Glock 17's with extra magazines would be less than $400. Choosing something a little nicer like H&K or SIG Sauer would be a little more.

What is expensive would be the training and liability. Since the University self insures I don't know if their is an actual liability cost but there is an implicit cost that has to be thought about and their reinsurer may care.

I believe for initial training you would be looking at between 40 and 150 hours of training. You would also have to have continuing training a few times a year plus probably twice yearly qualification. You have to pay the officers for all of these hours of training plus you have to pay for the training and range time and ammo.

If you are interested you should find out what Catholic spend in time and money when they armed their officers a few years ago.

Overall I think it would be a very good idea to have an armed force. You could start with supervisors and Master Patrol Officers and migrate to all Special Police Officers over time.