University considers arming public safety

By Allison Kirk l Herald Contributor

University officials will begin studying the matter of arming Public Safety officers over the course of next semester, according to Vice President of Student Life John King.
On behalf of the president’s office, King explained the university will study the matter carefully before making a decision to remain as is or change the policy. This process will consult campus community members and external stakeholders to obtain different perspectives on the issue.

Debate over this issue initially ensued at a Student Senate meeting on Nov. 11. President Miaoulis was in attendance at this meeting, and one of the senators asked whether or not he would support this change. He remained neutral on the issue. 

At this time, King said it is premature for the president to make any further comments on this discussion. 

Director of Public Safety Steven Melaragno explained while it is a topic of conversation, more conversations need to be held on the subject before any final decisions are made. Melaragno said he has been in contact with King about the process.

Public Safety officers on campus are currently unarmed, so this change would prompt a large shift in the department.

“We have to carefully make this decision before we announce anything,” Melaragno said.

Research released this year by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators showed that private university and college sworn police are overwhelmingly armed. Out of the 199 private universities and colleges with sworn personnel surveyed, only 4.5% were unarmed. 

Senior Charlie Jackvony shared his thoughts on the potential change. 

“I think having an armed Public Safety would be beneficial in providing a safer campus for all students,” Jackvony said. 

“This, of course, would come with conditions, proper and frequent training and testing to ensure that our officers are qualified to carry firearms on such a densely populated campus.”