Survey: 56 percent oppose arming Public Safety
The data were gathered in an online survey of roughly 1,100 undergraduate and graduate students, about 15 percent of the campus population. Officer Jim Lanzi, Public Safety’s crime prevention coordinator and an executive board member of the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the survey results were disappointing.
“They’re sending a recommendation to the University saying they should not arm Public Safety ... based on, I think, a flawed survey,” Lanzi said. “Why would the student government base their position on such a small percentage [of an] uninformed community?” he asked, calling the aversion to arming officers “an uninformed decision based on emotion.”
Diemand-Yauman said in an e-mail to The Daily Princetonian that, despite only 15 percent representation, “we believe the survey offers an accurate and persuasive view of student opinion regarding the issues it addressed.”
“I found the results to be very compelling,” he said.
The recommendation comes less than two years after the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) petitioned the University to arm its Public Safety officers. Following a formal complaint by FOP, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that the University was not violating federal standards. Public Safety officers currently carry batons, handcuffs and OC spray, which is similar to pepper spray. They also wear bulletproof vests.
The University said the gun policy is reviewed on a “regular basis ... The administration believes that it is important that we have armed response capability, and we have that capability as a result of our longstanding relationships with both the Borough and the Township police, who are able to respond quickly if a situation on campus requires an armed response,” Treby Williams, the assistant vice president for safety and administrative planning, said in an e-mail. Williams oversees the Department of Public Safety.
Lanzi said the survey should not replace discussions on the issue. “I would love to get the student body involved in that dialogue [on] a broader understanding why we want weapons,” he said.
USG president-elect Michael Yaroshefsky ’12 disagreed. “The results of the survey were conclusive enough that further discussion is probably unnecessary right now,” he said in an e-mail.
The survey also asked for student opinions on the emergency alert system, the Princeton Telephone and E-mail Notification System, which sends out emergency phone, e-mail and text alerts. About 62 percent of students said they would like to be informed immediately when Public Safety receives a threat, though there may be a greater likelihood of false alarms.
The USG also recommended that Public Safety include “some mention of the threat’s credibility,” the press release stated. Williams said that the notification system has already been “streamlined” to include that capability.
A third recommendation called for greater communication from the administration about campus safety initiatives, after only 6 percent of respondents said they were “very confident” in their understanding of emergency procedures.
“The administration, and DPS in particular, is eager to partner with students to enhance students’ knowledge with respect to emergency procedures and ways in which students can promote a safe campus,” Williams said.
Paul Ominsky, who will become the new director of Public Safety in about two weeks, declined to comment.