Equipping campus police with guns was on target


More guns, they said, will surely lead to brutally bloody blunders.

Yet, more than a year and a half since the UI police — for the first time in more than 40 years — strapped guns into their holsters, there haven’t been any major incidents involving firearms and the department. That fact, paired with comments from police officials, is evidence that an armed university police force is for the best.

In late 2007, anti-gun advocates on campus and around the state urged the state Board of Regents not to adopt a policy allowing campus police to carry guns. At the time, opponents of the change said more weapons would be dangerous to students and noted that local police forces in Iowa City (as well as in Cedar Falls and Ames, homes of Iowa’s other two regent universities) were armed and could respond quickly if needed.

Then-Regent President Michael Gartner told the DI in October 2007 that more officers with guns was unnecessary because the vast majority of crime on campus is related to drugs or alcohol.

On the other side, proponents of more guns insisted law-enforcement officers at our state universities were overdue; Charles Green, the assistant vice president for the UI police, said training standards for the UI officers often exceeds standards enforced by the state. The presidents at the UI, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa sided with Green, asking the regents to approve the new policy.

The controversy was quelled when the regents approved a policy allowing university police to carry firearms. Since then, we’re confident the UI is safer rather than less safe, as opponents contended at the time.

UI police have drawn and aimed their guns just six times in the last 19 months, according to the Annual Report on Campus Safety and Security, which was presented at the April regents’ meeting. Casualties of the UI offi guns include two deer, but fire has not been opened on humans.

And at ISU and UNI — where police were equipped with guns at the same time as police at the UI — cops have not recorded a single incident in which an officer’s gun had to be pulled.

Those numbers make it obvious we’re not in any serious threat because of university cops carrying guns. Law enforcement officers at the UI have shown over the last 19 months that they are well-trained and deserve to carry the necessary equipment that most other officers in the state are equipped with.

Gartner was right to point out that police-work on campus disproportionately deals with alcohol- and drug-related situations. However, that does not mean we should ignore the possibility of a threatening event taking place at the UI. While we had unarmed police, we ran the risk of letting those situations turn from threatening to tragic.

And, while Iowa City police carry guns and are available to assist UI police, there is no reason for one community police force to rely on another. In the most dangerous of situations, that reliance can cause big problems. When someone uses or threatens to use a gun, for instance, the UI police force without guns had to wait for another law enforcement agency to respond. While those other agencies surely operate quickly, a matter of seconds in a threatening situation can make a huge difference.

We should not take the issue of guns lightly. They are powerful tools and should be handled with the utmost caution. However, we should also recognize that our officers on campus are highly trained; their having guns promotes — not impedes — the safety of students, faculty and staff members, and the community.

> Share your thoughts! Click here to write a Letter to the Editor.

comments powered by Disqus
Daily Iowan Advertising
Today's Display Ads | Today's Classifieds | Advertising Info

Follow the DI through:

Sponsored Links  
T-Shirt Design  
Insurance Leads Charlotte Web Design
Health Insurance Leads Home Equity Loans
Home Service Guides  
Life Insurance DMI Furniture
Custom Magnets Buy a text ad


Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.