AU Police: Unarmed and Ineffective

The Real Danger of an Unarmed Public Safety

NorthWest Wing | Cody Shallow | March 28, 2016

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Since 2013, the United States has endured 173 school shootings in high schools and colleges across the nation. There is no surprise in this number considering the United States currently holds the title for the most mass shootings in the world. As a developed nation, it’s shocking that the USA has continuously failed to combat the issue of guns as many other similar nations have.

A common obstacle in the lawmaking process against guns has been the need to assign blame for the problem. Not only has this created a painfully ineffective debate, but it has also left many people confused as to who may carry guns and who may not. Surprisingly, some of those who do not carry guns are the people protecting you from those who are: campus police.

For a university located in the capital of the United States, it seems logical that significant protective measures would be called for to ensure a safe campus life for students. Though the beautiful campus does not frequently run into violent crime, the possibility that it could occur is truly undeniable. That being said, is it reasonable to assume that the public safety officials of this campus can assure protection from violent crime if they are unarmed?

“Aside from the safety repercussions of an unarmed public safety, the current method for protecting students at events is illogical.

The most alarming shortcoming of the failure to provide police-grade weapons to public safety officials is that response time to a violent crime is drastically increased. A public safety officer can do just as much as a regular person against a violent criminal, so professional response time is left up to the Washington Metro Police Department.

An active shooter situation takes place in around five minutes, but AUPD can respond to the situation in a maximum of two minutes, but normally less. The response time for the Metro Police, on the other hand, would obviously be significantly higher, and would potentially surpass that critical five-minute mark.

“…there is absolutely no question that AUPD officers are qualified to carry guns.”

Aside from the safety repercussions of an unarmed public safety, the current method for protecting students at events is illogical. At American University events, the university hires outside police officers, which make significantly more money than AUPD officers, to protect the students in large gatherings such as when a speaker visits the school. These hired officers are armed, yet those we actually have on our campus are not. Rather than hiring non-AUPD, who normally have about the same training as AUPD, it would make far more sense to use the officers that the university pays for to protect the university. Not only is this a very realistic possibility, it makes the utmost sense to have AUPD officers working and protecting at AU events.

Furthermore, there is absolutely no question that AUPD officers are qualified to carry guns. Most of them have prior Police or Military training in addition to an eight week training period that all officers undergo in order to receive a position as a member of the police department.

If the university does not find it reasonable to arm each officer, there should at least be the development of a shooter response unit of some sort in order to protect the university from the possibility of a shooting, and those officers should be armed. This is not a problem on which the administration can procrastinate. Right now, we’re responding to headlines calling for prayer for the victims of campus shootings, but we’re not reacting and thinking of our own campus. By the time the administration decides to implement a decision, it might be too late.