Originally published on Feb. 25, 1993
We are all aware that life is full of risks. There is nothing that we do which is totally risk-free. However, we do realize that risks fall into different degrees of severity. For example, we will sooner purchase shares of stock than play Russian roulette. Even though we may lose our money in the stock purchase, we accept that over the loss of our lives. We would much rather ride in a well maintained aircraft rather than rely on a neglected “puddle jumper” to get us to a destination, given the choice, even if we think flying is a risk altogether.
So why are we at Stony Brook so concerned about arming our police force, given the facts that not only do Public Safety officers (a degrading name for such a noble brotherhood of individuals) go through a more rigorous screening process than other state cops, but also possess a higher level of education than most other police officers anywhere in the nation? We don’t break down the doors of the precinct houses in our home towns demanding the disarmament of the police there. If this was such a volatile issue, people would not rest until all cops became impotent scarecrows, similar to “mall policemen.”
One argument against arming is that should our officers be armed, the air will be tense, and minority students will become restive and paranoid that they will be the first victims of a gun-happy officer. Bwahaha…sorry. I couldn’t recall a time when police officers decided to just go out one day, and in Elmer Fudd fashion seek to mow down the first “minorities” they saw, for the plain reason they were minorities, and that they did nothing wrong. Shouldn’t these “minorities” be more afraid of some moron on the other side of the law doing just that? And why is it that just minorities are cited as being concerned? What these people are referring to, I believe, is the overuse of force by a big-rigging officer in a pursuit of a suspect assumed to be a minority (if this isn’t a ghastly stereotype, what is?). True, there could be a small risk of that happening, but a cop is ignorant of the suspect’s potential for causing danger until his suspect is subdued. To subdue a suspect as easily as possible, shouldn’t we put the officer “one up” on the suspect? People who believe there will be pogroms against “minorities” should we arm our police are in the paranoid and radical minority, and their voice should be handled as such.
The second case against is that arming the law will invite criminals already present on campus to come as well equipped as our newly armed police. Students and visitors are already being shot and stabbed on this campus, and our police are not armed and therefore cannot do anything to apprehend the offending party. Very reassuring. An offshoot of this statement is that people see our main problem as being rampant theft, and not murder or assault or any other contact crime category. Could the decreased attention paid to building patrols be at least partly attributed to the officers’ not being able to chase a fleeing thief wielding a knife or gun at our officers? We might as well advertise our helplessness to the underworld, which already is beginning to take gross advantage of us. Look in our periodical police blotter reports. Just because we were blessed with good fortune in the past doesn’t mean, in this ever-degenerating and decaying region, with the LIRR and the LIE bringing questionable souls from all over the region to our campus, that the future will prove to be as lucky a period in our history. Why gamble with the community’s security?
Sit down for this asinine argument. London’s “bobbies” went without firearms. And look at London, a city in the same class as New York, with much the same problems, but with a seemingly lower crime rate than we have. Aren’t we forgetting something? We are not London. Our population has a far lower moral and societal standard than the British. We also trumpet our differences as badges of solidarity, while the British cooperate and coexist without the frequent violent societal clashes we have here, yet London is far from being homogeneous racially or culturally. We in America seem to want to cut each other’s throats if given the chance. Don’t give us that chance.
The decision to arm our officers has taken entirely too long. We wasted time debating petty points brought forth by a vocal but insignificant minority of individuals twisting the arms of the powers that be so that they can justify their presence and maybe even create a power base for themselves. In the meantime, several students were stabbed, raped, or shot, with everybody lending “sympathy,” but no real solution to the very real problem of the possibility of things being more catastrophic, like homicide, serious assault, and muggings, occurring on campus. Action talks, sympathy walks.
Dr. Marburger, you hold the key to the lock on this community’s security for years to come. With the busy schedule you undoubtedly hold, it is surprising that you and your aides have allotted over two years to make a decision which should have been made within a matter of months of the initial call for information, without any loss of input. I know you follow Statesman regularly, which means you are aware of what has happened on this campus in the time between Spring ’91 and now. That should be the biggest “case for,” and that’s how I ask you to vote; for the sake of the community — its residents, its visitors, its faculty and staff, and most important, its peace of mind. Thank you.