KINGSTON – The University of Rhode Island is calling to arm campus police after an April 4 report of an individual with a gun locked down the Kingston campus, according to a preliminary report on the incident.
The report, released Friday, identifies a series of improvements that “would enhance the readiness of the institution and its response to such incidents should they occur in the future.”
First on the list is improving the capabilities of campus police “as first responders to life-threatening emergency situations.”
The report calls for arming campus police officers at the university, stating that police officers responding to the emergency call at Chafee could not enter the building until armed officers from South Kingstown Police were present.
“This resulted in an approximate five minute delay in entering the building,” the report read. “Arming URI officers would improve the response time to an emergency situation involving weapons.”
According to the report, the new Board of Education, formerly the Board of Governors of Higher Education, has the authority to arm campus police at any or all three of the colleges, URI, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island, within their jurisdiction.
Rhode Island is presently the only state in the country that does not arm campus police officers.
Campus police officers are sworn police officers but current state law prevents them from carrying firearms.
In order to arm campus police officers, sworn officers will need to be equipped and retrained, according to the report.
“The university will need to provided physical improvements and equipment (one-time only) and annual training for police officers,” the report read.
The preliminary report includes an appendix detailing the estimated cost for arming URI Police, which estimates a cost of $498,254 in fiscal year 2014, if arming is implemented.
Of that nearly $500,000, initial expenditures are $200,250, which are one-time only.
Annual expenditures for arming campus police are estimated at $298,004, which includes a projected $135,554 in salary revisions and increases.
The university held a forum on the issue of arming campus police Wednesday, May 8 at 11 a.m., after the Times went to press.
The offices of the president and the provost, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the Student Senate are sponsoring the event.
The goal is to have “an informed dialogue” about the issue of arming campus police during the forum.
The report also makes suggestions to “improve the campus community’s education and training for responding to an emergency situation;” “improve the emergency notification (alert) system;” “improve communication to the community during emergency situation(s);” and “improve physical security program.”
Improving the physical security program includes coordinating physical security resources such as video monitoring, locking and access control infrastructure in classrooms and other facilities.
According to the report, the university’s blue light system, “All Campus Alert” outdoor speaker and audio message system have been tested and are being expanded to improve coverage to notify pedestrians of emergency conditions.
The report also states that the university recently hired a public safety technology expert to review and update security camera system components “to improve coverage and performance.”
Policies and protocols are also being explored to integrate various security measures.
The full preliminary report is available at www.uri.edu/news/alert  in the right column by clicking on “Dowload Chafee Incident Report.”