Winter Gatherings to Discuss Full 24/7 Arming of Police Officers
An important part of the mission of the Police Services Community Review Board (PSCRB) is to further communication between the campus community and Police Services by informing the community about important police matters. Throughout this quarter, at the request of Art Costantino the vice president for Student Affairs, the PSCRB will provide information to and consult with members of the Evergreen community. The Washington Federation of State Employees has requested that the College support our police officers by moving from our current limited arming policy to a full (24/7) arming policy. At the beginning of Spring quarter, the PSCRB will submit a recommendation to the vice president based on student, faculty and staff input, and information from several other sources, including the union, the director of Police Services and an outside consultant. The vice president will consider our report when he makes his recommendation to President Les Purce. President Purce will make the final decision. (See attached Schedule.)Evergreen's current arming policy, which has been in effect since 1997, allows campus police officers to carry firearms from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., seven days a week. Police officers may carry firearms from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. when distant from their automobiles (where guns are secured in lock boxes), when providing security to public officials, when large amounts of money are transported, when ordered to do so by the director of Police Services during dangerous time periods, and when making traffic stops. Since 1997, there have been a number of dangerous situations that have required our officers to remain armed during daylight hours as provided in our policy. (See attached Limited Arming DTF recommendations.)
Prior to 1996, Evergreen employed campus security officers who were neither commissioned nor armed, and who could not respond to potentially dangerous situations. Instead, Thurston County deputies were called to respond to those instances. Some examples of potentially dangerous situations where officers may need to draw weapons are domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide, felony narcotic arrests, riot, physical assault, building alarms, theft/robbery, traffic stops and prowler/suspicious person complaints. It often took up to 20 minutes for a Thurston County deputy to respond. Since the deputy was not a member of our community, the same procedures were followed when addressing students and college community members as those used when approaching anyone else in Thurston County. An advantage of having our own campus police force is that we hire, train and fire our own officers. (See attached report from Director of Police Services.)
In September 2002, the Washington Federation of State Employees (union) requested that the College review Police Services' Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), the adopted recommendations of the limited arming Disappearing Task Force (DTF), and to consider implementing full police arming on campus. The union asserts that the overall safety for Evergreen students, faculty, staff, police officers and visitors are paramount in this request. The union further maintains that our police officers, as covered in the SOPs, are required to work under problematic and potentially dangerous constraints. The union believes that limited arming constraints prevent police officers from adequately protecting and serving the community on a 24-hour basis. (See attached WFSE letter.)
The PSCRB has determined that there are three issues we want to consult with the community about: 1) Community and officer safety; 2) Liability issues in responding to (potentially) dangerous situations; 3) Confusion in implementing the current limited arming policy (See attached Limited Arming DTF report.)
Questions we would like you to consider before you come to a gathering are:
What do you expect our community police officers to do?
Would you feel less safe, more safe or about the same, if our campus police were
armed 24/7? Why?
We welcome your input, concerns, suggestions and questions, and look forward to meeting with you throughout this quarter.
You can e-mail the Police Services Community Review Board by email: Police Services Community Review Board; contact Linda Hohman, (chair), at 867-6346, email: Linda Hohman, or Housing Building A, room 301.
The members of the PSCRB are: Linda Hohman (staff/chair) - associate director of Housing; Kathleen Haskett (staff) - College purchasing manager; Kate Lykins Brown (staff) - College Advancement public information officer; Jerry Lassen (faculty; member through January 2003); Alan Parker (faculty); Afsheen Fatemi (student); Brant Eddy (student); and Emily Himmelright (student). Art Costantino, vice president for Student Affairs, and Steve Huntsberry, director of Police Services, provide information when consulted. AmyLyn Ribera (administrative secretary to the vice president for Student Affairs) provides administrative support.
Prepared & approved by PSCRB February 13, 2003.