Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) will be reintroducing legislation (2018-H 7938) that calls for the arming of police officers on the campuses of Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island, according to a press release issued today by the publicity office for the State of Rhode Island General Assembly. 

Currently, neither campus police force carries firearms.

“The terrible reality that our society currently faces is that active-shooter situations are a persistent threat and as we have seen, schools are frequently targeted for such vile and tragic acts.  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.  Most, if not all, of these men and women are former law enforcement officers, and all are required to go through the training of the police academy.  If the worst were to happen on either campus, I would much prefer that the campus police officers be trained, prepared, and equipped with firearms rather than having to approach an active-shooter with a pair of handcuffs and a prayer,” said Representative O’Brien in the release.

Representative O’Brien notes that his bill last year received broad support from law enforcement agencies and he plans to have representatives from law enforcement testify in support of the legislation during the upcoming legislative session.

“I am completely in support of Representative O’Brien’s bill.  The intent of this legislation is to protect the community, the staff and the students.  We have to properly equip our officers to do that in a world where active shooters are very real.  It is our job as public servants to learn from these incidents and develop ways to stop them.  This bill is the first step in doing that,” said Lt. Thomas Jones, President of the North Providence Fraternal Order of Police No. 13.

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

Representative O’Brien will reintroduce the bill in the early days of the new session, which begins on January 1, 2019.