Published Dec. 9, 2015 with Reporter Magazine.
After the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, the U.S. has experienced 353 mass shootings in 2015, with mass shootings being defined as four or more people shot. With heightened concern on college campuses, RIT is looking to change the way it would handle an active shooting situation.
According to an anonymous source with deep background on the subject, Public Safety will begin training a select number of officers to handle a long gun, or a rifle or shotgun, in the event of an active shooter on campus. These guns would be held in a select number of Public Safety cars, only accessible to those who were trained for them. In the event of an active shooter, these officers would not only alert the local police force, but also have the ability to respond themselves.
“It’s sort of a super basic approach because we will not have pistols like normal law enforcement does,” said the source. “It allows Public Safety to respond in some sort of capacity, which is better than nothing.”
The source went on to explain that they don’t feel as though it is enough because if officers are not armed and in the middle of an active shooting, they are still helpless until armed backup gets there.
“It doesn’t make traffic stops safer for Public Safety officers and it doesn’t make anyone safer in domestic violence incidents where the use of deadly force is being used,” the source explained. “That being said, this is a foot in the door and who knows what will happen in the future.”
The guns that would be used would need to be New York State Safe Act compliant, which according to the source could make them harder to use by design. According to the Safe Act, the gun can only contain ten rounds, cannot have a pistol grip and cannot have a compensator on the barrel. The reason for this is RIT’s Public Safety isn’t a sworn agency.
The source said that they couldn’t explain the current plan used in detail for safety reasons, but there is currently a heavy reliance on the Sheriff’s department, rather than Public Safety, in an active shooting situation.
“The idea behind this plan is to get armed resistance to them [the shooter] quicker while we wait for the Sheriff’s office,” the source explained.
President Destler sent out a Message Center email on December 9 stating that these changes would take place in 2016. He did not clarify if this meant in the spring or fall semester of 2016.
In October, RIT had two separate instances of a student being found with an unlawful weapon, according to the Public Safety crime report.
On Dec. 8, the Student Government cabinet was presented with this plan. Student Government President Nick Giordano declined to comment on the matter.
“It’s certainly not an “Active Shooting” plan, but we are preparing to announce a modest change in campus safety capabilities in the near future,” Destler said when asked to comment. If that’s the case, then when else would the guns be pulled out other than in an active shooting situation? When asked this, Deslter said, “I am going to give an update to the governance groups as soon as it can be arranged. You will have to wait for those meetings to learn more.”
After stating this, Destler sent out a Message Center email on December 9.
Chris Denninger, Director of Public Safety, had something similar to say: “The president is planning to give an update to the governance groups soon, and please wait for those meetings to learn more.” These meetings will take place over the next two weeks.