George Washington University is set to move forward with a plan to arm campus police officers for the fall semester despite protests from students and faculty who claim the move will “harm” the college community.
In an August 21 news release, the Washington D.C. university announced it would implement the phase of the “George Washington Police Department Arming Plan” and continue to seek feedback on the measure.
“After the first phase of arming—which provides coverage of two armed executive supervisory officers during the busiest part of the week—additional arming will occur in a multi-phase process contingent on a successful first phase,” the news release stated.
The two executive supervisory officers, Chief James Tate and Captain Gabe Mullinax will be armed at the start of the 2023 academic calendar year. Additional supervisors will be armed in phases as “requirements are met” and “community input is incorporated.”
The move is part of a five-part implementation plan announced Monday by the police department.
The plan also saw a revision to the university’s Use of Force Policy, which prohibits chokeholds and other measures that could restrict an individual’s breathing. It also details the “special circumstances” in which force can be used.
Supervisors who wish to be armed must complete “implicit bias training” each semester. “de-escalation training” once a month, “mental health response training” three times per year, a firearms qualification three times a year and virtual reality training once a month.
The university will also form an Independent Review Committee, which will provide additional oversight over the GWPD.
Administrators said that arming police officers with firearms is the only effective way to protect the campus from “rising gun violence” and to help respond to life-threatening emergencies.
The College Fix reported in April that the administration planned to arm between 20 and 50 campus officers.
The news was met with intense backlash from some students and faculty, who participated in a protest later that month that drew hundreds.
Announcing the protest, the campus group Students Against Imperialism wrote on Instagram that the decision is an “attack on Black and Brown students.”
“This is an attack on the poor and the working class. This is an attack on D.C. residents, who will almost certainly be brutalized by an armed GWPD,” the group added.
A petition demanding George Washington University reverse the decision claimed the move would not prevent gun violence “but rather serve to escalate conflicts.” The petition garnered over 700 signatures.
George Washington University Law Professor John Banzhaf said in a Wednesday news release that there is no evidence the “naïve” and “Kumbaya” suggestions from protesters, such as “bystander intervention skills,” would adequately protect students.
“Indeed, with all the school shootings which have occurred over at least the past 20 years, they failed to cite a single situation where an armed campus police officer shot a student or faculty member on campus,” he said.
Banzhaf also noted that most universities arm their campus police and “deranged-shooter-on-campus situations elsewhere have had to be resolved by the use of deadly force.”
George Washington University did not immediately return Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
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