Arm Your Cops!
Police and Law Enforcement News
February 19, 2013 9:59 p.m.
The national debate on guns and gun ownership and gun
control has, once again, raised the issue of whether police
officers on college campuses should carry firearms.
And ground zero is New Jersey’s own Princeton
They are sworn, academy trained, PTC certified police
officers. They write tickets, they settle disputes, and they make
arrests. They even have their own FOP Lodge.
But they do not carry guns.
Princeton University police officers are prohibited from carrying guns by rules
established by University officials.
This issue was discussed in a recent article in the
Daily Princetonian newspaper. Below is an excerpt from the article:
Shirley Tilghman said she was not aware the FOP was again raising the
issue of firearms, but said her position is that guns have no place in a
community like Princetonís.
The instinctual response from law enforcement types would be a colorful
tirade on how a university president has as much right lending an
opinion as to whether police officers should be armed as a police chief
does planning out curriculum for an Ivy League school.
We're not going to do that. There's too much yelling already.
But to President Tilghman we say, this is not about gun control; it is about
Allowing police officers to carry weapons is not acquiescing to the gun
lobby. It is fulfilling an obligation to protect those who work, study,
and visit the Princeton campus. It is having a law enforcement presence
in place that is prepared to meet whatever challenges arise whether they be
investigating a burglary, helping a
despondent 20-year-old whose girlfriend just dumped him, or stopping a
disturbed high school senior with a Princeton rejection letter in
one hand and a Tec-9 in the other.
Tilghman also told the Daily Princetonian:
We have in place a
number of measures that will ensure that if there is a risk ... police
can rapidly have the appropriate response without having our own police
Tilghman, speaking for just about every law
enforcement officer who has undergone active shooter training, we can
tell you that the shooter is about one thing: body count. Every wasted
moment is another life.
Those of us who do train for active shooter situations
know that we no longer wait to establish a perimeter. We no longer wait
for two or three other officers before entering a school in diamond
formation. We are trained not to waste even a second.
this means running toward the sound of gunfire alone, we are going. We
are going because the shooter is about numbers. We are going because
the shooter is summarily killing children and teachers.
The measures that Princeton has in place, we're sure, were the result of
much thought, and collaboration. But they will most likely
soon as the gunfire begins. They always do.
Should a shooting ever occur, the campus will be in complete chaos. The
sound of gunfire will ignite a wave of reports from faculty, staff, and
students all describing the shots as having occurred outside their
window or in their building.
Hundreds of calls will go to 9-1-1, to non-emergent telephone lines in
the Princeton Police Headquarters, and to the offices of school
officials. There will be accounts of one lone gunman and accounts of
multiple shooters. Some will describe the suspect as an 18-year-old
white kid with dusty blonde hair and shorts while others will relate the
shooter as a black male in fatigues.
The conflicting reports will send University officers to the third floor
of Fine Hall, to a locked office in the McCosh Center, and to "the grey
building on Prospect Avenue."
Unable to sift through the overload of information, it will be
Princeton's unarmed officers on the ground who will begin directing
assets toward the sound of gunfire. And to accomplish that, they will
go toward the sound of gunfire. They will go toward the gunfire with
their pepper spray and their notebooks.
Meanwhile, every person on the campus will be hiding under a desk
praying for an armed police officer to walk through the door and protect
And lost in a state of euphoria will be the shooter as he
reloads fresh magazines and looks for new targets unimpeded by law
After determining the location of the suspect, the article indicates
that the campus police officers are expected to establish an "outer
perimeter" and wait for officers from local departments.
those officers who cringed after reading that last sentence, the same
emotion was felt writing it.
That cannot be the plan. It cannot be the plan.
The only cops who will be able to get from Joline Hall to Bloomberg Hall
without a map will be the ones who do it every day. They know who
belongs and who doesn't; they know which door doesn't work in a
particular building, and they can respond to a madman mowing down people
begging for their lives in seconds, not minutes.
The only way to ensure that armed officers from surrounding agencies are
completely fluent with the geography of the campus is if they are to
regularly tour the grounds by vehicle and by foot. They are not going
to disarm to do this, so you end up having armed officers on campus
anyway. Plus, they will stand out much more than the Princeton
University officers who, by now, are part of the landscape.
we have learned anything since that late morning rampage in Jefferson
County, Colorado on April 20, 1999, it is that there will be more
shootings in schools. This is an inescapable fact.
There will also be more shootings on college campuses. This too is an
Many municipal police departments are conducting active shooter training
twice a year. We train in empty schools over spring break and we train
in full schools at a separate time, both with real weapons. We do
tabletop training, realistic scenario training, roll call training, and
we send officers back to the police academies for additional schooling.
And our jurisdiction is a municipality, not a campus.
Campus agencies should be holding monthly training drills including
everything listed above. They should be utilizing force-on-force
training with Airsoft or Simunition weapons. They should be constantly
planning and re-planning, training and re-training.
a university is going to claim to be providing police protection for
their campus community, they have an obligation to have police officers
who are fully and regularly trained for an active shooter situation.
The University's Active Shooter Plan will the be the
centerpiece of the investigation that will follow any active shooter
incident as will the specific training given to both Princeton
University officers and the officers from the surrounding towns.
This plan will also be the first item listed on the discovery requests
that will begin pouring in from attorneys in the aftermath of an active
When we hear that parts of the plan include terms like "outer
perimeter," it scares us.
There are no more perimeters.
There is only, "Attack!" There is only, "Stop him!"
The outer perimeter approach was eliminated
more than a decade ago. It makes us question whether this plan
conceived by law enforcers or educators.
Change at an institution as immersed in tradition as Princeton
University is probably considered sacrilegious.
But there are monsters in this world, monsters capable of destruction
far beyond the comprehension of decent people.
your cops are offering to confront these monsters should they ever
visit. Properly prepared and trained, they will make the danger go away
or give their lives trying. Please, give them the tools they need.