Rep. O’Brien questions RIC and CCRI over hiring of armed police details on campuses
STATE HOUSE – At a meeting of the House Finance Subcommittee on Education, Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) questioned representatives from Rhode Island College (RIC) and the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) over their decisions to hire armed police details for campus events at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the taxpayer. The campus police forces for RIC and CCRI are not armed and both administrations have been strong opponents to legislation (2019-H 5138) sponsored by Representative O’Brien that calls for the arming of RIC and CCRI police officers.
“The terrible reality that our society currently faces is that active-shooter situations are a persistent threat and as we have seen, schools are frequently targeted for such vile and tragic acts. 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.
At the subcommittee meeting, Representative O’Brien questioned RIC Interim Vice President and CFO Stephen Nedder and CCRI President Dr. Meghan Hughes about why at times armed police details were being hired to patrol the campuses of RIC and CCRI. He also asked if there was no need for the campus police to be armed why were armed police details being hired from neighboring communities. Representative O’Brien also pointed out that the hiring of outside police details costs the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“If the administrations of RIC and CCRI truly believe that there is no need for armed security on their campuses, then there is no reason for armed police details to be hired at great costs to the taxpayers and students of both institutions. Dr. Hughes even admitted that if CCRI police officers were armed, there would have been no reason to hire an outside armed police detail for an incident several years ago that lasted almost a week,” added Representative O’Brien.
Currently, the University of Rhode Island (URI) is the only public institute of higher education that has armed its campus police officers. URI instituted this policy in 2015. Representative O’Brien noted that Brown University in Providence, a private institution, also has campus police officers that carry firearms.
“All of these men and women are former law enforcement officers, and all are required to go through the training of the police academy, which also means under Rhode Island state law, they can carry firearms legally. If the worst were to happen on either campus, I would much prefer that the campus police officers be trained, prepared, and equipped with firearms rather than having to approach an active-shooter with a pair of handcuffs and a prayer,” said Representative O’Brien.
Representative O’Brien’s legislation is currently before the House Judiciary Committee.
Video of the subcommittee meeting can be found here.
For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903