On Oct. 25, DPS officially published a proposal to expand its armed officer program. But it released varying information about the proposal beforehand to different groups at various junctures, living up to the agency’s reputation for murkiness.
Being indirect with information about a gun policy can ramp up mistrust. There’s a lot we don’t know about this proposal and this is largely due to the nature of the Public Safety Review Board.
The PSRB publishes meeting minutes, but full transcripts or videos are not available. Furthermore, for the last few meetings — going back to March 18 — a student representative from the River Campus has not been in attendance. Needless to say, this decision affects students on the River Campus.
And not all policies themselves are so transparent. DPS will not disclose what prompts an armed response. They do this because “Publication might allow those intending to do harm to evade crime prevention, detection and/or response,” as the PSRB site says. It is, of course, impossible for DPS to give examples of this because those would violate their lack of transparency on the matter.
And DPS didn’t publish its sources for data used in the proposal. Numbers on a page tell us nothing without a source or an explanation of what defines a “mass shooting event.” To say nothing of the data only ranging back to 2014.
Most of DPS’s other arguments have significant holes as well. The response time for Med Center units to River Campus is commonly referred to by the maximum time of 13 minutes, but we don’t have any more context — how much of an outlier was that and what is the sample size?
Another reason DPS uses is metal detecting when performers visit campus. The possibility of someone bringing a weapon is a valid reason to have armed officers at the event, but this is not a great example of why DPS specifically would need to be armed. Officers station at events like these all over the place, not always having a prior familiarity with the location. But they are trained officers, and it stands to reason they would be adequately briefed beforehand.
Finally, a key part of the argument compares UR to other AAU institutions. The proposal reasons that, since 58 of the other 60 schools in the Association have guns on all campuses, so should we. But every situation is different and, at the very least, such an argument should not be central to a proposal.
The University has a distinct relationship with its neighboring community. Can we really clump every university, every community together, because they’re part of a research conglomerate?
For these reasons, we do not endorse the proposal in its current state. There are too many holes, too many loose ends. If DPS wants student trust, it needs to do a better job backing up its arguments. And it’s entirely possible it can.
With a student body apprehensive about adding more guns, DPS needs to plug those holes. When it comes to guns, there’s no room for doubt.