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10/26/2023 Rep. O’Brien will reintroduce bill arming campus police at public colleges; says ‘duck, cover and hide’ is not a safety plan
STATE HOUSE – Following the horrific recent attacks in Israel and Lewiston, Maine, Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) will be reintroducing legislation mandating the arming of campus police officers at the state’s public colleges.  He has introduced the bill for the past several legislative sessions.

Currently, the University of Rhode Island is the only public institute of higher education that has armed its campus police officers.  URI instituted this policy in 2015.  Representative O’Brien has also noted that Brown University in Providence, a private institution, also has campus police officers that carry firearms.

“In light of the awful and heartbreaking attacks we have seen on innocent civilians over the past few weeks, I feel more strongly than ever that our state’s public institutions of higher education need to protect their students, staff and visitors with armed campus police officers.  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.  A response time of five to ten minutes is too long and if an active shooter threat emerges, for everyone’s safety, we need staff on campus who are capable of neutralizing the threat.  Duck, cover and hide until law enforcement responds is not an acceptable safety plan,” said Representative O’Brien.

“Although it is utterly disturbing to acknowledge, active shooter and terrorism situations are not going away in our society, and most often, targets of these vile crimes are schools and other soft targets.  Under current law, the administrations of both RIC and CCRI have the power to arm their campus police and they should do so 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.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903