In the wake of the October 1 shooting that left nine dead at Umpqua Community College (UCC), Princeton University has announced that it will be augmenting its policy on gun-free Department of Public Safety officers so as to provide those officers access to rifles that can be used in the event of an attack.
This is a seismic shift in policy, as the Fraternal Order of Police urged Princeton to change its gun-free policy in 2008 and again 2013 but was rebuffed in both instances. In 2013, Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman responded to law enforcement concerns by stressing that “guns had no place in a community like Princeton.”
But times are changing. And now, the Daily Princetonian reports that Princeton Department of Public Safety officers will have access to rifles that can be used in the event that a gunman tries to take innocent life or simply brandishes a firearm.
DPS Executive Director Paul Ominsky said, “The national best practices for responding to an active shooter have evolved. It is now a law enforcement best practice to get an armed officer to the scene as quickly as possible to save lives.” He added, “Response time matters. Even a few minutes can make a difference to save a life.”
University spokesperson Martin Mbugua stressed that officers will remain unarmed—as they have been for years—but they “will be ready to arm themselves under the threat of an active shooter.”
The University says the process of making this decision has been under way for “several months.” However, the announcement comes less than two weeks after a gunman entered classrooms on UCC’s campus where even the security guard was unarmed. The result of that approach to fighting active shooters was horrific.
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