Follow-Up on Shelter in Place Incidents From December
By Cameron Hosseinian
On the 8th of December, 2015, The Catholic University of America was subject to a most chilling thought: the thought of having an armed suspect on campus. At 1:12am on that relatively quiet night, all Catholic University students received a Shelter in Place email alerting them to a potential gunman on campus. In light of the horrific attacks in Paris, the tension on campus was palpable and unavoidable.
Police presence has been noticeably increased on campus following the Shelter in Place. Additional security cameras have been placed around campus and DPS officers have been placed extensively throughout campus. The incidents and following security updates have invoked a sense of safety and of restriction. Ongoing discussions about the arming of DPS officers around campus has gained support as well as disagreement. An outcry was voiced throughout campus with students stating that they no longer felt safe or that they felt that more protection was needed.
Spearheading the front for the students are Anne St. Amant and James Benedek, President and Vice President of CUA’s student government. When asked whether or not the University should continue with increased security Ms. St. Amant replied:
“I believe that there should be a new standard of the security that we have on campus. We see a time of turmoil in the world we live in. Not only do we live in our Nation’s Capital, but we also live on a campus that represents Catholicism in the United States. Unfortunately, that makes us a target in the eyes of some. I believe that there are everyday fixes we can enact in order to secure a safer campus: arming a few DPS officers on every shift, more security cameras, etc. can all build towards a safer campus. Ultimately, our goal is to make sure that CUA students feel safe and comfortable in the place where they live and learn.”
Echoing the opinions of both students and DPS officers in support of equipping officers with weapons sophomore Mike Baker stated, “I feel as though DPS officers should be armed because in the event of an active shooter they would be virtually ineffective. Not only would they be unable to defend the students and faculty, DPS officers would be unable to defend themselves.”
Arming DPS officers would require extensive training as well as funding. Two things that seem to be in short supply around campus. Yet, with the arming of DPS officers our campus may have the necessary force to deal with such a threat if it should ever occur again.
Voicing the opposite sophomore CUA student Zeke Green said, “Arming DPS officers and adding more security to campus would only complicate the problem. These additions would make the controlling factor at our University fear instead of peace and reason.”
By not increasing security or arming officers the University could be taking a large risk. If an active shooter should ever be on campus the first responders would most likely be DPS officers. Yet, when faced with such a dangerous threat as this, protection and the ability to subdue a shooter would be absolutely necessary. On the contrary not arming DPS officers would prevent any sort of unnecessary police violence, something which seems to be occurring on a more frequent basis. Fortunately, the University was capable of handling such incidents before without using violent methods and it would make sense they should be able to repeat this.
Student Jack DiFrisco said, “It would be a wise decision to arm officers just in case such incidents were to occur again. On the other hand, I feel as though the University should consider that by arming officers they are bringing in a potential liability.”
We are thankful for the tremendous effort the University, DPS and MPD put into ensuring the safety of the community. Incidents like this are often spontaneous and unfortunately cannot be completely prevented. While a police presence is necessary it is vital that we do not overcompensate. We want to be safe yet we want freedom. With the new year and new semester upon us it is clear change is coming. In a world where hatred, violence and discrimination have become commonplace, peace and love frowned upon, and change feared, all we are able to do is push forward. With both sides of the argument considered the University is challenged with the considerable dilemma of choosing whether or not to arm DPS officers and increase police presence.