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Distributed January 11, 2006
Contact Mark Nickel

President Ruth J. Simmons
Brown Approves Arming Campus Police Officers, Effective Immediately

In December 2003, Brown University announced that it would arm its campus police officers and directed the Department of Public Safety to begin the necessary testing, training, policy development and other preparations. In a letter e-mailed to all Brown faculty, staff and students today (Jan. 11, 2006), Brown President Ruth J. Simmons announced that preparations were complete and that the University’s licensed campus police officers would be armed, effective immediately. The text of President Simmons’s letter follows here.

January 11, 2006

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

Over the past several years, the Brown University community has been engaged in serious and open discussions, review, and action surrounding issues of campus safety. In December 2003, I advised the Brown University community of a number of steps we were taking to enhance the safety and security of our campus, including the initiation of a process to arm our licensed campus police officers. I described the rationale for the arming decision and explained that we would move carefully to ensure that all effective safeguards, policies, procedures, training, and supervision were in place before moving forward. I also explained that the decision to issue firearms would not be made until we were fully satisfied that the Department of Public Safety was fully trained and prepared to follow these safeguards. In mid-December 2005, I was advised that the preparation process was complete. Therefore, upon the recommendation of Chief Mark Porter, I approved the arming of licensed Brown University campus police officers, effective immediately. Please note that only campus police officers, who are police academy graduates, licensed by the Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, and authorized to enforce state statutes as well as university rules and regulations, will be armed. Security officers, who are authorized only to enforce university rules and regulations, will not be armed.


Many of the arguments in favor of arming the campus police officers were presented in detail in the Bratton Report undertaken in spring 2002. The report concluded that to be more effective against crime, Brown campus police would need to take on additional policing roles, including arresting armed perpetrators, pursuing fleeing suspects, and making car stops. None of these functions can be performed safely by police officers who are not armed. Our officers were required by policy to disengage when faced with a violent crime or a weapon. Such a policy, while understandably needed to protect officers, was untenable insofar as assuring the safety of our community. Our first responsibility must be to do all we can to assure the safety of our students, faculty and staff.


The Department of Public Safety has completed a comprehensive implementation program to prepare for the assumption of this responsibility – a program that has been overseen in its entirety by an arming oversight committee of faculty, staff, administrators, and students.

All officers who are armed have undergone new criminal background checks and psychological testing. These officers, who have already completed over 600 hours of formal training at the municipal police academy and who have an average of more than ten years of service in law enforcement, have undergone 160 hours of additional training. The instruction included practical training on the use, retention, and storage of weapons, as well as intensive scenario-based training on use-of-force policies and procedures. The program also included training on the use of alternate measures such as conflict resolution and persuasion, as well as comprehensive training to enhance sensitivity on diversity issues.

The Department of Public Safety has revised and updated numerous policies, procedures, and protocols. All of the Department’s policies and procedures, including those pertaining to use-of-force, pursuits, and searches were reviewed as part of the Department’s successful reaccreditation process conducted last year by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).

We will continue to be vigorous in our training efforts. The Department is significantly expanding its annual training program to further improve on the officers’ skills, with instruction scheduled to begin as early as February of this year.

To ensure transparency and continued community confidence, we have established two new committees, the membership of which includes students, faculty, staff, and administrators. The first is the Public Safety Oversight Committee, which will review the practices, policies, and procedures of the Department of Public Safety and make policy recommendations where necessary and appropriate. The second is an Officer Conduct Review Board, established to review the Department of Public Safety’s investigation and disposition of complaints filed by students, faculty, staff, and members of the public.

While preparing the campus police officers for this responsibility and establishing a process to ensure ongoing training, oversight, and review, we have taken a number of additional steps during the past several years to enhance the safety and security of our community. The University implemented numerous measures to increase the presence and effectiveness of law enforcement in the College Hill neighborhood. These measures – all of which remain in place today – include:

  • Increasing the size of our campus police force;
  • Engaging Providence Police and private security details to augment our patrols;
  • Adjusting the hours and locations of our police deployment based on crime statistics and trends;
  • Significantly improving coordination with the Providence Police and providing them with space for a community policing substation on our campus;
  • Expanding our shuttle program and providing improved service, resulting in twice as many students taking advantage of the safety and convenience that the shuttle provides compared to earlier years;
  • Adding street lighting and continuing to improve lighting on and around campus;
  • Increasing our efforts to educate students about crime prevention;
  • Upgrading our Department of Public Safety supervisory staff by hiring highly experienced officers, and;
  • Appointing a highly qualified Director of Public Safety, Chief Mark Porter.


I would like to thank Chief Porter and the men and women in the Department of Public Safety for their efforts on behalf of the Brown community. Chief Porter has assured me that the Department will accept this solemn responsibility with great care and professionalism. The work they perform is difficult and critical to the safety of the community. Finally, we take this step with the full and sober knowledge that there will be more we will need to do to maintain a safe campus. We pledge to continue these efforts, and we ask your help in the collective endeavor to ensure the community’s heath and safety.


Ruth J. Simmons


03-059Dec. 1, 2003: University announces decision to arm campus police officers

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