College Reverses Course, Will Wait to Decide on Arming DPS

(Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

(Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

By Benjamin Pontz, Editor-in-Chief

A proposal to situationally arm trained officers in the Gettysburg College Department of Public Safety that was initially set for a decision this spring will now remain on ice until President-Elect Robert Iuliano takes office in July.

Current President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 announced the delay at last Thursday’s faculty meeting, at which she noted that conversations to date have been characterized by a tenor of “caution.”

The initial plan was for Vice President of College Life Julie Ramsey and Executive Director of Public Safety Bill Lafferty to make a recommendation to Riggs in March and for her to make a decision during the spring semester.

Riggs cited conversations with Faculty Council, which suggested that the full faculty ought to have the chance to discuss the matter at a regular faculty meeting, as important to her decision to pause the process.

In an email, college spokesperson Jamie Yates added, “The College has heard a variety of perspectives on this proposal, and we want to be sure we have sufficient time for continued consultation with the College community.  It’s an important decision and not one we want to rush.”

Riggs acknowledged to the faculty that Gettysburg has become an outlier among peer institutions, most of whom have either sworn police departments or armed campus security.

Lafferty echoed that sentiment in an interview in January during which he said the plan — which calls for trained DPS officers to be armed at large-scale campus events such as graduation as well as during a potential active shooter situation — was a sign of the times.

“It’s not about who we are. It’s about where we are,” he said during a presentation to the Gettysburg College Student Senate.

Senate later passed an opinion endorsing the proposal.

While Iuliano has not made any public statements on this matter specifically, among his responsibilities at Harvard has been oversight of the Harvard University Police Department, a sworn law enforcement agency whose officers are armed.

Iuliano takes office July 1.

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Author: Benjamin Pontz

Benjamin Pontz '20 serves as editor-in-chief of The Gettysburgian. Previously, he served as a staff writer, event coverage coordinator, news editor, and managing news editor. During his tenure, he has written more than 150 articles, and he led the team that won first place in the 2017 Keystone Press Awards for ongoing news coverage of Robert Spencer's visit to Gettysburg College and co-wrote the package of editorials that won first place in the 2018 Keystone Press Awards. Ben is a political science and public policy double major with a minor in music, and he reads up to seven newspapers daily. Follow him on Twitter @benpontz.

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