Armed presence on campus approved

This past weekend, the Board of Trustees made the decision to approve the establishment of a professional police department on campus, consisting of three armed officers.
The issue of having an armed presence on Augustana’s campus was a highly discussed topic for weeks with input from students, faculty, the administration, the community and security officers. While there were concerns raised at the meeting, the majority consensus was that an armed presence would benefit Augustana.
“I’m really proud of the way this decision was made,” said President Steven Bahls.
This past weekend, the Board of Trustees made the decision to approve the establishment of a professional police department on campus, consisting of three armed officers.
The issue of an armed presence on campus was a highly discussed topic for weeks with input from students, faculty, the administration, the community and security officers. While there were concerns raised at the meeting, the majority consensus was that an armed presence would benefit Augustana.
“I’m really proud of the way this decision was made,” said President Steven Bahls.
The administration will work with the State of Illinois, the City of Rock Island and security officers to establish the appropriate protocols, policies and procedures for the police force.
The three officers chosen to form the Augustana Police Department have all had previous law enforcement experience and will go through rigorous training.
Chief of Public Safety Tom Phillis spoke in a forum Tuesday morning about the benefits of becoming a police force.
“Being a police department allows us to exchange information freely (with RIPD) and be able to work together,” said Phillis.
The main consensus of the meeting was that safety comes first. Many within the Augustana community were concerned about the campus’ readiness to respond to catastrophic incidents, which have increased at schools and college campuses.
After consulting the Rock Island Police Department concerning response time to a mass casualty situation, having an armed presence on campus could shave minutes off response time.
“An armed presence on campus does not stop incidents from happening” said Bahls. “What it can do is to lessen the impact.”
The Augustana Police Department is anticipated to be established by next fall.
A conversation session for further questions will occur Friday in the CSL, 404 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. with Bahls, Dean Pareena Lawrence, Dr. Mark Vincent and security officers.