The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to hold a bill to require armed campus police at Rhode Island’s public colleges for further study.
The vote came after higher education officials pushed back against the proposal.
In a written version of his testimony, Rhode Island College President Frank Sanchez said arming campus police would be unnecessary. He said RIC’s urban location is easily reached by local police. And, citing conversations with students and staff, Sanchez said the proposal is broadly unpopular.
The state’s Post-Secondary Education Commissioner Brenda Dan-Messier argued the decision to arm campus officers should be made by each university, not mandated by state law. She said she believed each of the Community College of Rhode Island campuses were adequately protected by municipal police.
Dan-Messier also pointed to the cost of arming police at the University of Rhode Island, which she estimated at well over $150,000, plus more annually. She said that was extra money RIC and the community college system were not prepared to set aside.
The University of Rhode Island armed campus officers in 2015 after a gun scare. Campus police were forced to wait for local officers to respond to that incident.