SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The R.I. Board of Governors for Higher Education has voted to change state policy banning campus police from carrying guns, clearing the way for the University of Rhode Island to arm its officers.
The Board of Governors voted 8-to-1 in favor of a policy change that allows each school under its jurisdiction to make its own decision on whether to arm officers, spokesman Michael Trainor said. The vote came at a meeting on May 23.
The new policy takes effect immediately. Any school that wishes to arm its police force must first submit an informational report to the board explaining its decision and describing its preparations for implementation.
Previously, Rhode Island had been the only state in the country that banned police on public university and college campuses from carrying firearms.
The board had visited the issue in the past, Trainor noted, with studies completed in 2009 and 2011. Calls for URI to arm its officers ramped up after a scare on campus in which a person was reported to have a gun. Although no gun was found, campus officers were forced to wait for armed state police to arrive before entering the building where the incident took place. •