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					The Georgetown Voice, DC
09-27-07

DPS to be armed in next year

Crystal Chung

The Department of Public Safety plans to arm its officers with maces and batons,
University President John DeGioia said at a faculty town hall meeting on
Tuesday.

“I suspect that probably about a year from now, it will be more than likely that you
will see our officers with batons and mace,” DeGioia said.

The decision stemmed from consultation with the officers, who requested arms
themselves.

“We‟ve never had [armed officers] before, but as we examine what we‟re asking
of our officers, which is to play a more significant role in providing safety even
beyond the immediate confines of the campus itself and out into the
neighborhood a bit, as we look at the kinds of risks we‟re asking them to take,
and we look at the best practices around the country, we believe that that‟s an
appropriate step for us to take,” DeGioia said.

University Spokesperson Julie Green Bataille said that the officers wanted to be
better equipped and to be on par with many of the universities throughout the
country that arm their campus officers.

“Georgetown is one of only a limited number of campuses in the nation whose
public safety officials don‟t have these tools, so this is really a measure to bring
DPS to a level that is more aligned with what is already being done around the
nation,” said Tyler Spalding (SFS „08), who is a board member of the Student
Safety Advisory Board.

The university said it will make sure that the arms will be used properly.

“DPS is beginning the process of training and certifying officers in the proper
procedures and use of this equipment and expects to take up to a year to have
all patrol officers meet these standards and use the protective equipment,”
Bataille said.

Both DeGioia and Bataille were clear that tasers or other firearms would not be
part of the “protective equipment considered at this time.”

Many universities nationwide have taken measures to arm their on-campus
officers as well. Darin van Riswyk, Lieutenant in Iowa State University’s
Police Department, advocates arming university police primarily for officer
protection. Iowa State University is currently deciding whether or not to arm.

Thus far, the issue has gotten broad support among students and faculty at Iowa
State.

“Sometimes we deal with people who think about suicide,” van Riswyk said. “If I
get a call saying someone‟s trying to shoot themselves, I‟m not going to that call.
I have children and they need a dad. If that person turns on me, I have to protect
myself. My armor might protect me, but you never know.”

Georgetown DPS officers declined to comment, citing department policy.

Although students were not consulted about the decision, Vice President of
Student Affairs Todd Olson said the change would ultimately provide more
protection for the students.

Despite good intentions, some students are against the changes being made.

“It‟s too exaggerated,” Nicole Stringfellow (COL ‟11) said. “It‟s not like people
have guns at parties.”

				
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