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2/29/2024 Rep. O’Brien’s bill that arms campus police at public colleges heard in committee
STATE HOUSE – Rep. William W. O’Brien’s legislation that mandates the arming of campus police officers at the state’s public colleges was heard by the House Judiciary Committee.  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 notes that Brown University in Providence, a private institution, also has campus police officers that carry firearms.  He also points out that the presidents of both RIC and CCRI already possess the authority to arm their campus police officers.

“After years of introducing this legislation, at this point it is clear to me that the college presidents do not have the best interests of their students or faculty in mind, and if a terrible tragedy occurs, they both should resign immediately.  They have been aware of this problem for years and they have done nothing to address the issue.  Praying that a mass shooting doesn’t happen is not a safety plan.  We must prepare for the worst and hope it never happens.  Clearly, the two presidents are not interested in safety on their campuses,” said Representative O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence).

The legislation (2024-H 7308) would mandate arming campus police at public higher educational institutions and would include campus police in the definition of “law enforcement officer” for the purposes of the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.”

Sen. David P. Tikoian, a former major with the Rhode Island State Police and the former colonel of the North Providence Police Department, whose law enforcement career has spanned almost three
decades, will be introducing the bill in the Senate.

“As a former law enforcement officer who has participated in numerous active shooter training exercises during my career, I know firsthand how critical seconds and minutes are when responding to the scene.  The less time it takes for properly trained and equipped personnel to respond and react to the threat, the greater the likelihood of lives being saved and innocent civilians walking away physically unharmed.  This is a proactive bill that will aid in keeping our college campuses not only safe and secure, but also prepared in the event the unspeakable happens at one of our state institutions of higher education. Campus police officers already have the training, now we need to afford them the equipment to keep the students, faculty, staff, campus community and themselves safe.” said Senator Tikoian (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Lincoln).

The bill was held for further study by the committee.

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