As the nation endures an epidemic of mass shootings with seemingly no end in sight, many institutions and individuals are making reactive, knee-jerk decisions out of crippling fear.
For example, Northeastern University in Boston recently announced that its campus police will now be armed with semi-automatic rifles, despite opposition from the Boston police, students and faculty.
“Watch CNN for five minutes,” NUPD Chief Michael A. Davis reportedly told the Boston Globe. “There are things that are happening around the country that cause us to pay attention.”
Just in 2015, there have been about 23 shootings on college campuses. Davis is right not to ignore those statistics and work on effective ways to keep NU’s students safe, but heavier artillery may not be the right answer.
Many campuses have resorted to arming their police more heavily in the midst of the mass shooting epidemic, however, aren’t thoroughly considering the risks associated with the increased prevalence of militarized campus police. For one thing, officers with rifles will likely intimidate the communities they serve rather than making them feel safer.
Davis reportedly said the campus police needed to be equipped with the new rifles to handle a mass shooting because they are in closer proximity to an active shooter situation than the city police, but, according to the Globe, the Northeastern campus is just a half a mile away from Boston police headquarters.
“I’m not sure I see the need to arm inner-city college campuses with these long guns when their officers already have firearms,” Lieutenant Michael McCarthy with Boston PD reportedly said. “As a matter of getting resources to the school, that can be done in a matter of minutes.”
Students and faculty alike have expressed uneasiness and have condemned the campus police for not being transparent throughout the decision-making process.
The university’s Students Against Institutional Discrimination said in a statement:
“NUPD has not been transparent in its actions to militarize an already undertrained campus policing body in the name of ‘protection.’ As Northeastern University Students Against Institutional Discrimination, we are dedicated to accountability and transparency in all campus policy."
"We strongly oppose the notion that semiautomatic weapons have any place on a college campus. As a coalition centered on inclusion and diversity, we recognize the complex sociopolitical relationship between police forces and communities of color. Limited training in cultural competency and racial sensitivity in conjunction with the excessive use of force by police departments negatively impacts black and brown individuals.”
The group included a petition with its statement to remove all semi-automatic rifles from the campus police, which has gotten more than 1300 signatures in less than a week.
Banner Photo Credit: Twitter @BostonGlobe