GW University to Campus Police: No Firearms

WASHINGTON

After a year-long review, George Washington University has decided not to arm campus police officers, the GW Hatchet independent student newspaper reports.

University President Steven Knapp made the announcement after an outside security consultant’s exploratory study found “no compelling justification for providing firearms to the University Police Department,” according to the paper.

Knapp said he decided not to arm UPD officers based on both the recommendations from the consulting firm and his own observations. Details of the report from James Lee Witt Associates were not made public, Editor-in-Chief Alex Byers told Campus Safety magazine.

The university began reviewing the possibility of arming its security personnel a year ago, after University Police Chief Dolores Stafford co-authored a report for the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) that recommended arming sworn law enforcement agencies, the paper had reported earlier.

Arming campus agencies has been a hot topic since the shooting at Virginia Tech in March of 2007. The decision should be made carefully with the input of a variety of local stakeholders, argues Commander Shad Ahmed, director of the National Institute for Public Safety Research and Training, in an article that will be printed in the May/June issue of Campus Safety Magazine.

Campuses should consider the occupational safety of officers, campus dynamics, situational awareness, the impact on liability insurance, the option of community policing and the type of service provided, according to Ahmed.

Also, officer training must align with whichever path is chosen, Ahmed writes. Firearms trainers often argue armed campus officers deter students from carrying weapons.

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