Regents creating security policy

Rebecca Carton

The idea of arming campus police has been on the minds of those in the department of public safety for quite some time, but in terms of firearms, both the DPS and ISU students are probably going to wait at least another month.

The Board of Regents was scheduled to vote on the issue of arming campus police at its Sept. 18 and 19 monthly meeting in Council Bluffs. The vote was postponed so that the regents can first come up with a detailed security plan before taking any action involving the issue.

“Even if they would have voted, the police would not be armed until the policy was developed,” said Gary Steinke, executive director of the Board of Regents.

With the regents voting on a comprehensive plan instead of the simple issue of arming, Steinke is unsure whether the decision will be made by next month.

“I’m not sure if it will be in October, but it will be in the very near future,” Steinke said. “I’m hopeful for October, but it’s unlikely.”

Although several regents had voiced their opinion at the meeting that they were ready to vote on the decision, board member Ruth Harkin proposed the delay in voting on the issue to develop an all-inclusive security policy, which would include campus arming.

The motion was then seconded by board member Craig Lang and the board voted to create the policy in a 7-1 vote.

“I think we ought to put this in perspective,” Harkin said. “There are a number of steps being made to increase campus security. We decided to put them all in one amendment.”

Harkin said the campus arming issue was not the only topic being discussed for the policy. Other safety protocols being mentioned include the lighting of parking lots, communication to students and safety escorts for students.

Although ISU Police Cmdr. Gene Deisinger has not gotten official word from the Board of Regents, he understands the issue of coming up with policy that would stress an all-inclusive policy, instead of just the arming topic.

“My understanding is that the regents are requesting recommendations regarding a comprehensive report but largely about arming campus police,” Deisinger said.

Steinke said the decision wasn’t a delay but more of a thought to collect criteria for the policy.

“It wasn’t due to delay. The regents asked for a comprehensive security policy that will include arming as well as a lot of other issues that need to be addressed,” Steinke said.

Some of the issues Steinke mentioned were liability, the use of standard regent-issued weapons and recertification of officers.

Steinke said the decision not to vote at the meeting was largely about “establishing ground rules” in terms of what arming campus police will entail.

“Lots of research has to be done and lots of conversation need to take place,” Steinke said.

Although many students and faculty are still against the arming issue, Harkin said there is still plenty of time for them to share their opinions with the board.

“People always voice their opinions,” she said. “People are free to do that all the time.”

Although initially it was believed there was a specific time frame for when the Board of Regents would decide on the arming issue, Harkin said she did not know of any set time frame the regents are supposed to follow.

“It’s always been on the docket to talk about and we’ve already had a fair amount of discussion,” Harkin said. “I don’t know where any time table came from.”

Steinke said although the decision to come up with a comprehensive policy before voting is a good indicator of what the regents’ decision will be, he doesn’t know for sure how the regents will vote.

“I’m not going to get anyone’s hopes up,” he said.

Dave Zarifis, director of public safety for the University of Northern Iowa, said the motion to wait on voting was a good idea.

“I think they are exercising good diligence,” he said. “It’s their prerogative to feel comfortable as we move forward in this process.”

Zarifis said Northern Iowa would provide any additional information to the regents in order to assist them in their decision.

“If they feel they need more specific information, then that’s what we’re willing to give them,” he said.

The Board of Regents’ next scheduled meeting is Oct. 30 and 31 at the University of Iowa.