O'Brien's bill would arm all public college campus police

Submitted legislation prior to latest tragedy at Michigan State

By Mike Rego
Posted 2/16/23

PROVIDENCE — Whether it was prescience or presumption of another sinister act about to take place, a state legislator recently submitted a bill to arm police on two college campuses.

In …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Register to post events


If you'd like to post an event to our calendar, you can create a free account by clicking here.

Note that free accounts do not have access to our subscriber-only content.

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


O'Brien's bill would arm all public college campus police

Submitted legislation prior to latest tragedy at Michigan State

Posted

PROVIDENCE — Whether it was prescience or presumption of another sinister act about to take place, a state legislator recently submitted a bill to arm police on two college campuses.

In light of what happened Monday, Feb. 13, at Michigan State University in East Lansing, where a lone gunman terrorized the MSU for hours, killing three students and wounding five others, the reintroduction of legislation by Rep. William O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) two weeks ago mandating law enforcement officers at Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island wear arms was just as apt as ever.

The legislation (2023-H 5299), which O’Brien submitted on February 9 only a few days prior to the MSU tragedy, calls for the training and arming of public campus police officers and would include campus police officers under the state’s “Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights” before October 1, 2023.

“This bill is about nothing more than the safety and protection of the students, faculty, and staff at our public colleges,” said O’Brien. “I know this is a difficult topic for some to discuss, but in a world of active shooters and terrible tragedies determined by seconds and minutes, it is completely irresponsible for us to fail our students and staff by having to rely on off-campus law enforcement if the worst-case scenario should happen on our public campuses.

"I’ve been told that the response time to RIC if an active shooting situation where to happen is 5 minutes and frankly, that is way too much time for death and destruction to occur. Our campuses need a faster response and the only solution is armed campus cops.”

Locally, the University of Rhode Island is the only public institution of higher education that has armed police officers. URI instituted its policy in 2015. O’Brien noted Brown University, a private institution, has its campus officers carry firearms.

O’Brien said RIC is an outlier by being one of the only public colleges in the country without armed campus police.

“Although it is utterly disturbing to acknowledge, active shooter situations are not going away in our society, and most often, targets of these vile crimes are schools,” O’Brien added. “It is because of this that I believe police officers at both RIC and CCRI should be allowed to carry firearms in order to protect students, faculty, staff and the public.

"This is not a political or philosophical argument, but a realization of the troubling times our country currently faces. Total safety of the campuses is my only concern.”

The Michigan State shooting came just over two years after a lone shooter murdered four and injured seven others at the Oxford High School in the Detroit suburbs. Graduates of Oxford were on the MSU campus last week as was one student from the Sandy Hook massacre nearby in Connecticut.

Valentine’s Day 2023 also marked 15 years since five people were killed when a man opened fire at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb on February 14, 2008. This year’s holiday, unironically, also marked five years since a former student entered the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and opened fire, killing 17 people and wounding 17 more.

2024 by East Bay Media Group

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.