One of the new members of the Board of Regents suggests arming campus security officers would do little to improve security on the Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City campuses. Bonnie Campbell, a member of the Board of Regents, says she sees "no need" for campus security to carry side arms.
"I remind people that the guards at Virginia Tech were armed and that clearly didn’t resolve what was happening there or prevent it," Campbell says. A lone gunman shot 32 fellow Virginia Tech students to death four weeks ago before shooting himself to death. Campbell serves as Iowa’s Attorney General, then served as the head of the Violence Against Women office in the U.S. Justice Department.
Campbell says her work with F.B.I. agents and others with expertise convinced her the best approach is for security officials to train repeatedly on how they would respond to a violent situation. "We’re really talking about workplace violence. This is where students work. It’s where faculty work. Most workplaces don’t have armed guards," Campbell says.
David Miles, another new member of the Board of Regents, hasn’t made up his mind about whether campus security guards should be armed. He’s leaning against it, though. "I’d like to hear back from the universities and hear what their approaches are. There’s also going to be a lot of work done at Virginia Tech and nationally by a number of institutions and so I’d like to study that," Miles says. "I agree with Bonnie that we want to be careful not to have a knee-jerk reaction that simply makes us feel better, but that at Virginia Tech didn’t really help and may not help here, and I think we also need to focus on identifying individuals who might be at risk of doing something like this."
University officials are currently reviewing campus security plans and will make a report to the Regents this summer. Campus security guards currently are not allowed to carry side arms and Miles isn’t ready to say whether that policy should continue. "My understanding is that they’re trained in the use of weapons and that they have access to weapons," Miles says. "…But I don’t know the whole decision-making process behind that and I want to understand that better." Miles and Campbell made their comments on Iowa Public TV’s "Iowa Press" program.