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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Nov. 16, 2007

Q&A
Police officers armed this week

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approved a "Comprehensive Campus Safety and Security Policy" Oct. 31 for the campuses of Iowa's three regent universities. Among numerous measures in the policy is a green light, for the first time since 1969, for campus police officers to be armed. Inside sat down with ISU department of public safety's Jerry Stewart and Gene Deisinger earlier this week for this update.

The board of regents' new security policy was approved Oct. 31. Are ISU police officers armed now?

With final approval from President Gregory Geoffroy, Iowa State University Police began routine arming of police officers on Monday, Nov. 12.

The officers at ISU all are state-certified police officers and already were qualified in the use of weapons, including firearms. As a nationally accredited law enforcement agency, Iowa State University Police already had implemented policies that met or surpassed national standards and state law (as required in the new policy). As a result, implementation of the new board policy primarily has involved updates to department policy, and subsequent review and approval by university administrators to ensure compliance with the expectations of the board of regents. The new security policy has several key components; routine arming of officers is one of them.

What kind of gun do your police officers carry?

ISU police officers currently are equipped with a semi-automatic, .40-caliber pistol such as the Sig Sauer Model 229 or the Smith and Wesson M&P. To make our selection, we consulted with the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, the State of Iowa Department of Public Safety and other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies as delineated in the Comprehensive Campus Safety and Security Policy.

Who on your staff will carry a firearm?

State-certified police officers will be the only staff who will be armed under this policy. At ISU, that is 31 officers.

What kind of training is required for police officers to be armed?

Before they are hired, Iowa State University police officers must complete the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and meet or exceed state standards for certified peace officers. Officers also must complete the department of public safety's comprehensive field training program prior to working independently.

Police officers must receive training in, and qualify with, all approved firearms prior to being allowed to carry such weapons. This occurs during academy training. It also is part of continuing educational requirements to maintain certification as a peace officer.

The board of regents' policy requires university officers to exceed state firearms training standards in both frequency and scope. For example, state standards require annual testing. At least twice a year, ISU police officers must demonstrate target proficiency, safe weapon handling and weapon retention. Officers also must demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of issues related to use of force.

Will officers still carry Tasers?

Yes. The Taser is one of several less-lethal weapons that police officers will continue to carry. We will continue to train our officers to utilize the most effective options for the safe resolution of situations. In most circumstances, the best option will continue to be the officers' personal communication skills and their knowledge of, and relationship with, the ISU community.

You've talked about this as a means to create a safer environment on campus. Can you elaborate?

The policy that was approved is much broader than just arming university police officers. It includes guidelines for comprehensive campus safety plans, and specifically for things such as emergency notification systems; early identification and intervention with individuals who pose a threat; evaluating and implementing measures to enhance personal safety; response to critical incidents; and mutual aid with other law enforcement agencies, among others. The policy also requires annual reporting on each of these components. This proactive, systematized approach to safety and security issues greatly supports a safer campus environment.

With regard to arming specifically, arming our officers allows them to contain the threat when they are confronted with a volatile situation involving an individual with a weapon.

Summary

ISU police began carrying arms this week in compliance with a safety and security policy recently approved by the Board of Regents. The policy calls for other safety measures, such as emergency notification systems; early intervention with individuals who pose a threat and implementing measures to enhance personal safety.