With the tragedy that occurred on the Virginia Tech campus on Monday we are forced to ask hard questions about the safety of students here at UR. Surely, as statistics show, we live on a very safe campus, even given the large city to which we are adjacent. Students are kept safe by a very respected and well-trained team of Security officers and a very thorough Security system, which includes blue light phones, among other precautions. But given the recent violence, our placement as a University surrounded by a large city and our ever-expanding campus, which includes URMC and the Brooks Landing project in the 19th Ward among other areas, is the current level of security enough to protect the thousands at UR? Further, is the current level of training and certification that our Security officers have enough given the jobs we ask them to assume?

Currently, Security officers are severely limited in the actions they can take by their current level of training and certification. They cannot make arrests, investigate crimes, set up traffic stops or access criminal records to check for warrants. They carry no offensive or defensive weapons with them, lethal or non-lethal – that means no guns, nightsticks, mace or stun guns. Rather, they are expected to carry out their duties with just handcuffs and possibly a flashlight.

The jobs of Security officers often put them in harm’s way. They deal with affiliated and non-affiliated people on the UR campus every day. This includes violent criminals at Strong Memorial Hospital along with other potentially violent people in all of their patrol areas, including Brooks Landing or even the Fraternity Quad on a normal social night. Yet, in the presence of violence, Security officers are expected to detain the person with just the handcuffs they carry and just wait for RPD to arrive.

It is simply not safe for anyone affiliated with UR to have the first responders to any scene, violent or not, unprotected and severely limited in the actions they can take. No matter what RPD’s response time is to the scene, having to wait for the police to arrive takes valuable minutes while people are potentially in severe danger. We cannot expect this system to keep the students, or the Security officers, safe any longer.

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