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 served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gettysburgian from 2018 until 2020, Managing News Editor from 2017 until 2018, News Editor in the spring of 2017, and Staff Writer during the fall of 2016. During his tenure, he wrote 232 articles. He led teams that won two first place Keystone Press Awards for ongoing news coverage (once of Bob Garthwait's resignation, and the other of Robert Spencer's visit to campus) and was part of the team that wrote a first-place trio of editorials in 2018. He also received recognition for a music review he wrote in 2019. A political science and public policy major with a music minor, he graduated in May of 2020 and will pursue a master's degree in public policy on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Manchester before enrolling in law school.

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