Sworn officers in Princeton University’s Department of Public Safety will soon have access to rifles in the event of emergency situations involving threats of active shooters on campus.
Paul Ominsky, director of the school’s public safety department, announced the decision at the Council of the Princeton University Community meeting on Monday. The decision, a reversal of a longstanding school policy not to arm officers, was first reported by the school newspaper, the Daily Princetonian.
Ominsky told the university community that national best practices for responding to an active shooter have evolved, and that it is now a law enforcement best practice to get an armed officer to the scene as quickly as possible to stop a shooter and save lives.
The school’s public safety department is comprised of almost 100 members, and more than 20 are sworn officers who are trained in the New Jersey police academy for 26 weeks, just like municipal police officers. The campus officers have the power to write tickets and arrest people.
Officers will be able to arm themselves if there is a threat of an active shooter on campus instead of depending on the local police department to provide the armed officers.
The union representing the campus officers has been asking for the right to carry guns for several years. Former Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman bristled at the idea, and repeatedly said guns had no place on campus in a community like Princeton.
Rutgers University and The College of New Jersey both have campus public safety departments that include sworn officers who carry guns. Rider University does not allow its public safety employees to carry guns. The employees at Rider and the school’s choir college in Princeton, Westminster Choir College, are not sworn police officers.