The institution made the decision after an incident last year where an individual was reported to be armed inside the Chafee Social Science Center. It turned out to be a false alarm; no gun was found.
The university said its unarmed police officers responded to the scene within 40 seconds but had to wait outside for five minutes until armed South Kingstown police officers arrived.
“Our foremost priority is the safety and security of every member of our community and we have taken many steps over the past year to enhance campus safety,” said URI President David Dooley in a statement. “In order to provide the safest environment possible and to ensure a timely response to any threat to the safety of our campuses, our police officers must be equipped properly to function as first responders.”
Paul Bueno de Mesquita, a URI professor who also serves as director of its Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies, questioned the policy in an open letter.
"Guns have never helped to build a safer community," de Mesquita said. "Can we be certain that arming our campus police with weapons of deadly force will make our campus safer? In the heat of a crisis or a false alarm of the kind that happened at URI last month, should we not be thankful that our security force was not armed and did not have to face the situation with the potential for unknowingly or accidentally firing at an innocent student(?)"
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