BREAKING: University considers arming AUPD

Morgan State shooting raises further concerns for community members

BREAKING: University considers arming AUPD

American University officials are considering arming its police officers, according to an email sent to the University community Wednesday morning by Chief Financial Officer Bronté Burleigh-Jones. The email cited a recent shooting at Morgan State University as raising concerns for enhanced campus safety efforts. 

George Washington University recently made the decision to arm two officers, with plans to arm four more, causing pushback from the community

“AUPD officers are equipped with less-than-lethal chemical and impact weapons and trained in de-escalation techniques,” wrote Burleigh-Jones in the email. “The University began assessing their overall safety approach in 2012 and have continued working on it in the 11 years since.” 

The University cites its residential location as a key factor in the decision-making process. Burleigh-Jones stated that the options the University  is considering “include[s] maintaining the current approach of unarmed campus police, issuing firearms to officers and supervisors, staging firearms in vehicles for threat situations, or introducing less-than-lethal options that could be used in situations involving armed intruders.”

They “will collect extensive community input, consider potential updates and impacts, and ultimately report the findings to the AU Board of Trustees and the full community in the first part of the spring 2024 semester.”

Recent threats closer to AU have caused more worry for the community. Last November, gunshots were reported near Jackson-Reed High School in Tenleytown. In April, students reported suspicious activity in Kerwin Hall, which prompted an AUPD investigation. 

This fall, the University plans to use community engagement to inform their “all hazards approach” to potential new safety practices, per Burleigh-Jones’ email.

The plans the University is implementing currently include updated physical security standards, mass notifications to community members in case of an emergency, lockdown procedures and an updated violence prevention policy. 

Correction: A previously version of this article's subheading stated that the Morgan State shooting raised a question about safety. The article's subheading has been updated to reflect that the shooting raised further concerns.

This article was edited by Zoe Bell, Jordan Young and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.

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