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Editorial: Public Safety should have guns

Published: December 9, 2005
Section: Opinions


Last weekend reminded us that Public Safety does more than just break up parties they ascertain threats against the safety of our community and react. Their response to a student being brutally assaulted last weekend was admirable. First, they sent a campus wide e-mail informing students of the threat and then, after investigating further and finding out about other suspicious activity by a person with a similar description, they sent another one updating students as to their investigation.

Wed like to commend Ed Callahan and the Office of Public Safety for their speedy, professional handling of this awful event. Their quick reaction assured a shaken community that steps are being taken to find who did this and to curb such incidents in the future.

Whoever committed this heinous act is a horrible human being. If it is proven that this unprovoked beating was done by a student, we hope the student is permanently removed from the community and criminally charged.

This recent incident highlights the dangers of being a campus Police officer. If the perpetrator had a weapon, any public safety officer responding to the call would have been in danger. Without the protection of a weapon, an officer would be unable to defend himself or any of the students, and would be forced to wait for Waltham Police to show up before responding. This is an unnecessary danger.

Following Sept. 11, 2001, Waltham Police was present on campus because of campus desire to ensure an armed presence. Now however, Waltham Police are rarely seen at the University and the safety provided by an armed officer is absent from campus. Furthermore, most Brandeis Police officers are trained state troopers who have experience and training with weapons. Thus, we strongly urge President Jehuda Reinharz to revisit the idea of arming our Public Safety officers.

In the 80s, there was an incident of murder-suicide in Usdan that Brandeis Public Safety had trouble responding to because they werent allowed to carry arms. We wouldnt want another such incident, in which every second counts, to require officers to needlessly risk their lives because they do not have weapons.

Often Public Safety is criticized for doing their job. Students complain that Public Safety breaks up parties, tickets cars and has weird entries in the Police Log. Yet, their responsibility to maintain law and order in this community necessitates and supersedes any bad rep they may earn for doing their job. Granted, some Public Safety policies could be slightly adjusted (like ticketing in admissions before 6 a.m. and breaking up parties before 2 a.m.), but for the most part, their policies are fair and necessary. They are professionally trained Policemen who deserve our gratitude, our respect, and deserve to be armed.