The Problem with Disarming Campus Police

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Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Madison Kirkpatrick

A.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for the complete disarmament of campus police, on the grounds that students should no longer fear armed police. I, along with others, believe that no student should be afraid for their safety, especially not at school.

Students — especially students of color — can feel intimidated by a heavy police presence for a variety of reasons. This new resolution can alleviate some of the stress these students feel towards law enforcement. However, we should consider whether or not disarming campus police is the best longterm solution to this problem.

Mar. 3, the night the resolution was passed, was also the 49th anniversary of the Isla Vista Riots. During the A.S. Senate meeting on Feb. 27, student advocate Ivana Cruz said, “It’s rarely talked about. The night of the Bank of America burning, a student was walking home from a liquor store and he was violently arrested because the police mistook his handle for a Molotov cocktail.”

According to Cruz, armed law enforcement has resulted in increased fear and tension between police and students.

Portland State University and the University of Oregon both recently passed bills to disarm their campus police. Student leaders supported this choice, believing that it would guarantee student safety. I agree that this was a smart decision on Oregon’s part; even I fear for my safety doing something as simple as going downtown with friends or walking to class.

I believe these bills will protect students, but we need to consider how officers can defend themselves.

An example of the potential dangers of lack of defense can be found in the death of Natalie Corona, a police officer in Davis, California. The campus-based law enforcer was shot and killed in the line of duty while responding to a car accident near campus. What some people do not realize is that those in law enforcement are not all dangerous.

Though there have been disgusting instances of police misconduct, not every police officer deserves to be labeled as a threat. Corona was a human being with family and friends who had to mourn her death over something that could have potentially been prevented if she were armed.

I hope that I am safe in my surroundings, but for me this does include police being able to defend themselves. Instead of taking guns away, we should focus on enacting stricter gun control.

With UCSB’s decision, the hope is that police brutality and gun violence will be alleviated. However, I wonder if this is a good fix to the problem. Though I do agree with the decision, it might be better to have a longterm fix that does not compromise the safety of students or law enforcement, since everyone deserves to be protected.

It seems ironic that by taking away something that causes students to feel uneasy, it does not really ease their feelings if a dangerous situation occurs and they cannot protect themselves or be protected by campus police, who are employed to make sure students are safe.

I do believe that UCSB’s decision can be effective and has good intentions. Unfortunately it doesn’t do much if the people we want to protect us are putting themselves in danger. We cannot always expect students to protect themselves. With the decision, I hope students feel safer on campus as the law intended. If it does not, I hope the school can look into other options.

3 COMMENTS

  1. As someone from Davis – who was just recently attacked by white supremacists because I addressed that the Thin Blue Line imagery is racist – the fact that you’d use Natalie Corona this way is appalling. She was armed, and that didn’t help to protect her. Your position therefore logically leads not simply to the arming of police but to their increased militarization and the continued persecution and death of students of color.

  2. Blu is 100% correct, and shame on you for weaponizing the nearest thing in order to make people hesitant to call you out. A few additional problems with the shockingly uninformed claim you’re trying to slip past:
    – Corona was not a campus-based police officer, she was a City of Davis officer. Not remotely the same thing, and therefore…completely irrelevant to this conversation about disarming UC police. “[C]ampus based” is not a thing. She was not UC police, nor was she “campus based.” She was not shot on campus, nor by anyone campus-affiliated. Her death is, however, a convenient leverage point to stake your argument on, distasteful and disrespectful as it may be.
    – Can you point to cases in which UC police have intervened in ‘active shooter’ or similar scenarios, and therefore prevented serious injury or death?
    – “[S]ince everyone deserves to be protected,” you surely haven’t missed perhaps the central reason for disarming UC — the fact that people of color, people who are queer, non-binary, and many more disempowered identities, are significantly more at risk of police violence than cis, white, hetero people, correct? And that therefore, not everyone is protected by the assurance of UC police armament, in fact many are directly threatened by it?

  3. This was nice-written article. Shame on these people for personally attacking you with their biases.

    These people cites some statistics that they made up to justify their ignorances.

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