URI Campus Police Respond with Batons and Pepper Spray to Shooting Because of State Policy

by Andrew Johnson

When University of Rhode Island police responded to reports of a gunman on campus last week, they surrounded the threatened building armed with only batons and pepper spray because of a state law that prohibits them from carrying guns. While it was ultimately a false alarm, the URI police officers’ concerns about the policy were very real.

“We had five of our officers plus myself. I’m always concerned for their well being in a case like that,” URI Police major Stephen Baker told Campus Reform. “We need to carry firearms and the issue should be ‘how do we go about that before its too late?’”

The university’s president echoed Baker’s concerns, saying he supports arming the campus officers.

Rhode Island is the only state that doesn’t allow state-university campus police to carry guns, and show no signs of changing that policy. “Simply more guns in the mix isn’t a solution to violence on university and college campuses,” said a spokesman for Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee. A representative of the state’s board of governors for higher education said it “remains unknown” if the board will revisit the policy.

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