Should Princeton University police carry guns?

January 8, 2010 3:03:45 PM PST
Princeton University gets high marks on safety from most students. "Princeton's campus is ranked one of the safest in the nation," student Coleman Crutchfield said.

"I feel very safe here, no problems," Audrey, another student, said.

No major national headline grabbing violent incidents have happened on the campus of quaint and quiet pathways.

But after a student with a history of emotional problems, shot and killed 5 faculty members and 27 students before killing himself at Virginia Tech in 2007, colleges and universities across the nation reviewed and revamped their security.

Since 2008, the local Fraternal Order of Police has tried unsuccessfully to get Princeton to allow its 47 or so public safety officers to carry guns on a campus where they oversee 11-hundred faculty and 75-hundred students.

The undergraduate student president says a recent survey shows 56 percent of students prefer the officers stay unarmed.

"We have confidence in Boro police," Conner Diemand-Yaumen said.

In a statement, the FOP said:
"We believe we should have the range of tools necessary, as professionals, to protect the community and ourselves. Police officers on Princeton University's campus are trained equally well as municipal officers and are authorized under state statute to carry and use firearms appropriately. Princeton University has decided not equip its police officers with firearms. We have started a dialogue with the university administration and have encouraged them to evaluate this important issue with the same dedication and rigor that it commits to other decisions. Regrettably, far too many violent criminal episodes occur on college campuses nationwide. We believe that our campus and its fine community of students, faculty, and staff is at a considerable safety disadvantage because its police are not properly equipped to respond to incidents that can rapidly evolve into violent criminal episodes."

Some students see the benefits of armed officers.

"It could help. There's been violence before. It could help," Jade Moore said.

Some do not.

"No need to bring guns on campus," Susanna Hamilton said.