The State Board of Regents delayed a decision on allowing campus police officers to carry guns and instead voted to ask their staff to develop a comprehensive security plan for the three state universities that would include the arming of campus police.
The Regents called for the new security plan after hearing appeals for firearms from the schools’ directors of public safety and receiving the results of student surveys showing overwhelming support for the idea of arming campus police. The presidents of U-N-I, Iowa and Iowa State have each recommended the officers be armed.
Regent Ruth Harkin of Cumming says there are many other issues that go into a secure campus,and it’s difficult to single out arming campus police. "I just wouldn’t want to give the impression that we think we have responded to the security call by voting on a firearms policy," Harkin says. The board asked its staff to develop a comprehensive security plan that would include arming campus officers.
The only Regent to voice opposition to the idea – Rose Vasquez of Des Moines – says the issue shouldn’t be bundled into a larger plan. Vasquez says she’s ready to vote on arming officers, saying she’s opposed to arming the officers and it won’t have anything to do with not beefing up security measures. Vasquez says even after hearing from the directors of the three public safety departments about the threats that face campus police, she did not favor arming the officers.
Vasquez says, "There was no situation that sort of rose up or elevated itself to a level that but for a gun, things would have been different." Vasquez was the only Regent present to express doubts letting university police officers carry guns, yet board chairman Michael Gartner said the Regents didn’t want to take hasty action on the issue.
Gartner says nobody but Vasquez is uncomfortable with the idea of arming campus police if it is done in a "thorough, careful, contemplative way, and that’s what was asked for here." No timetable was set for the staff to complete the safety plan and return it to the Board for approval.