Iowa State University
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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

Date: 9-12-07

To: Gary Steinke

Executive Director

Board of Regents, State of Iowa

From: Gregory L. Geoffroy

President

Iowa State University

Re: Recommendation to approve proposal to equip certified campus police officers with firearms

I am recommending approval of the proposal before the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, to allow the Regent universities to equip their certified campus police officers with firearms.

Two priorities rise above all others in fulfilling our mission as Iowa's land grant university. One priority is providing the highest possible quality academic programs to enable our students to prepare for careers, and our faculty and staff to advance the frontiers of knowledge and put that knowledge to use to help improve the lives of Iowans and people throughout the world. The other priority is ensuring that we provide the safest possible environment where that quest for knowledge can take place most effectively.

Iowa State University goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure that our learning and living environment is safe, and we believe that it is. As documented in the Campus Safety and Security Report to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, and Governor Chet Culver in June, Iowa State has one of the top campus police departments in the nation, and the university has several programs and security measures in place to ensure that the campus is safe and secure. As also documented in the report, we are constantly reviewing our safety and security programs and procedures to make improvements, especially in the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech University in the spring.

Equipping certified police officers at Iowa State University with firearms has been the subject of discussions involving Regents, campus administrators, students, faculty, staff and other constituents for several years. The Virginia Tech incident brought the discussion to the forefront, and a proposal was developed by the Regent university vice presidents in consultation with campus public safety directors and others.

The proposal was carefully and thoughtfully developed, taking into consideration both the benefits and the risks involved with bringing firearms onto our campuses. The proposal has been widely distributed and publicized on the campus, and I have sought input both from elected representative bodies, including the Faculty Senate, Professional and Scientific Council, and Government of the Student Body, and from individuals. Several public forums were held. Key results are as follows:

  • The Government of the Student Body adopted a resolution supporting the proposal by a vote of 23-5, and GSB President Brian Phillips has recommended its adoption. GSB also conducted a random survey of ISU students: 61.3% "agree or strongly agree" with arming campus police officers; 15.2% "disagree or strongly disagree"; and 23.6% neither agree nor disagree. In addition, the student newspaper has editorially endorsed arming campus officers.
  • The Faculty Senate voted 38-27 in favor of the proposal.
  • The Professional & Scientific Council voted 31-2 to "strongly support" the proposal.
  • I received approximately 150 e-mails and other communications from individuals expressing their views, and they were largely in favor of the proposal.

Based on this input, and my own thorough review of all of the issues involved with this proposal, I am recommending that the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approve the proposal and authorize the university presidents to allow certified police officers employed by their institutions to be equipped with firearms, based on the conditions and limitations included in the proposal.

It is also very important to note that the police officers at Iowa State University, as well as the Universities of Iowa and Northern Iowa, are certified Iowa law enforcement officers, with the same comprehensive training and weapons certification required by other law enforcement officers in Iowa. The law enforcement officers of Iowa State's Department of Public Safety are highly qualified in all aspects of law enforcement, including weapons certification. Our Department of Public Safety is one of a select few (3.5%) law enforcement agencies in the U.S. that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, and it is also designated as a "flagship" organization by CALEA for the very high quality of its staff, programs and operation.

I realize that not everyone will agree with this recommendation, but I want everyone to know that I fully understand the issues involved. It is my judgment that in order to ensure that we continue to provide the safest possible learning environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors to our campus, and understanding that there are increasing threats to our security, we must provide the professional staff whose responsibility it is to ensure safety and protection with all of the tools they need to effectively carry out their responsibilities.

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President Gregory Geoffroy

Iowa State President Gregory Geoffroy

Quote

"Two priorities rise above all others in fulfilling our mission as Iowa's land grant university. One priority is providing the highest possible quality academic programs to enable our students to prepare for careers, and our faculty and staff to advance the frontiers of knowledge and put that knowledge to use to help improve the lives of Iowans and people throughout the world. The other priority is ensuring that we provide the safest possible environment where that quest for knowledge can take place most effectively."

Gregory Geoffroy, president of Iowa State University