Photo from an issue of The Statesman published on Sept. 19, 1979. At that point in time, Stony Brook University had no plans to arm campus security. STATESMAN FILE

Originally published on Sept. 19, 1979

The question of whether Campus Security should be armed has been at issue since Security’s inception, but although nightshift officers at the State College at Oswego were recently armed, there are no plans to do the same here.

A spokesman for the University said last night there were no recent discussions or proposals on the matter of arming security officers.

Campus Security Director Robert Cornute said, “Each campus must make a decision” on whether its police force should be armed. He added, however, “I would not advocate universal arming on any campus.”

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“We have had situations here that would require members of this department to be armed,” Cornute said, citing armed robberies and the fact that officers “have taken weapons from people this semester. An officer was shot at Stony Brook about four years ago while answering to a burglary call,” he added.

Currently, Suffolk County Police respond to any call on campus involving firearms. A Security detective said it takes “anywhere from five to fifteen minutes” for a Suffolk County Officer to arrive.

The detective said, “It just seems like a waste of time when you have higher qualified people [Security Officers are required to have an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice, while Suffolk Police only need a high school diploma] who can respond in two minutes – that difference can mean someone’s life.”

Many students, however, are not anxious to see Security armed. Monique Dussault termed the possibility “scary,” adding, “I don’t think people here are that bad that you need guns, and I’d feel weird walking around campus where there are people with guns.”

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James Bonner feared that Security might abuse the power of carrying guns, “They’re not even keeping Stony Brook secure,” he said. “There have been incidents of people’s cars being ripped off, yet all they do, as far as I know, is ticket and tow cars and harass students.

Some students, though, would like to see Security armed. “In light of the fact that there’s a very high crime rate on campus, what this campus needs is a police force that can act as such if they need to,” stated David Haines.

Brian Hutchinson said that if Security remains unarmed, “given the size of the Stony Brook community, the number of assaults and robberies, the Stony Brook police force could not adequately contain an armed criminal venture.” He added, however, “I would, of course, be very concerned about the potential of a fatal error in judgement by a member of the Security force.”

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