(KMTR) - The University of Oregon Police Department (UOPD) says carrying guns will allow them to keep campus safer, but some community members disagree.
Ever since the University of Oregon
's campus security made the switch from the Public Safety Department to a sworn police force, the discussion of whether they should carry guns has been a heated one.
To be clear, the decision about arming University of Oregon Police Officers has not been made. For that to happen, the University's President would have to make an official request to the State Board of Education, who would then review it before granting permission.
UOPD has held a series of campus discussion this year to try to move forward in the process. They believe armed police would keep campus safer. On Tuesday, there was a community forum on campus to discuss the matter.
"[We’d like to] provide service we think is necessary to this campus, but we need tools to do that,” says UOPD Chief Carolyn McDermed. “And a tool, like a firearm, is one that will help us.”
"There are these certain things that can't be done without that full policing authority,” added Kelly McIver, UOPD’s Communications Director.
But some community members are not convinced. A couple of people at today's meeting say they do understand UOPD’s want for firearms, but others believe it would change the tone of campus.
“Injecting guns onto this campus is a danger, not a preventative measure,” says Carl Stiefbold, a faculty member at the University of Oregon. “The likelihood of someone innocent being hurt or shot far outweighs the likelihood of your interceding an assault.”
The Vice President of Communication for the UO’s Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, Dana Rognlie, also thinks arming campus police would not improve campus security. She asked the Chief what specific crimes would officers be able to better assist with if they were armed.
“If it's something like somebody had property stolen, I'm not quite sure what a gun would do to aid you in that situation,” says Rognlie.
Another graduate student said if UOPD officers had guns, it would likely weaken the relationship between campus police and the student body.
Today's meeting was meant to be a small one, but if you wish to join the conversation, there will be a bigger gathering Wednesday. It will run from to in the Browsing Room of the Knight Library. As of now, it's the last scheduled event on this matter.