URI seeks input on arming campus police

University of Rhode Island officials are seeking public input on whether campus police should carry guns.

The first of three public forums was held Monday on the Kingston campus.

Earlier this year, the state Board of Education gave each of the three state universities -- URI, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island -- the option of arming its officers.

The URI president supports arming campus police, citing a high-profile incident in April of a reported gunman. The report was false, but campus police had to wait to go into the building where the incident happened because they didn't have guns.

"There's a lot more students and their parents that are asking us all the time how come URI police are not armed. That was a decision that was made back in 1980, and I think it's long overdue time to revisit that. I think the professionalism of the department is such that we should have all the tools that other police officers have," URI Public Safety Director Stephen Baker said.

If the decision is made to arm URI police, it would take up to a year.

Two more public forums are planned, one more at the Kingston campus on Oct. 28 and another one at the Providence campus on Oct. 30.