Campus Safety is moving forward in arming safety officers on campus.
As of Tuesday, Sept. 24, Campus Safety Director Scott Wanzer will be carrying a firearm as he patrols the John Brown University campus.
“Even when I first came to JBU, on one or two occasions I was asked what I thought about having safety officers armed,” said Wanzer. “I said it was a matter of when not if.”
Wanzer is currently the only safety officer who will be carrying a firearm though in the future other officers may receive training and become licensed to carry firearms as well.
“It’s a matter of training and experience,” said Wanzer. “There are kind of two categories of safety officers. We have five with law enforcement experience and the rest without.”
Even though Wanzer has 27 years of law enforcement experience in Tulsa, Okla., he still took courses in the northwest Arkansas area before receiving his license to carry a weapon on campus.
If the University decides to move toward arming other officers as well, they would likely start with the group of officers who have law enforcement experience.
“We will continue to look at and talk about who will be armed next and what that next step will look like,” said Wanzer.
Campus Safety has also been giving self-defense classes where and giving pepper spray to students who attend.
“As far as weapons (for students), I think it’s what anyone is comfortable with,” said Wanzer. He also said the best advice he can give students is to become familiar with whatever weapon they may carry.
“In the midst of a crisis, a person will act how they train,” said Wanzer.
Andre Broquard, the Dean of Students and director of Residence Life, said this latest development is the result of a long, slow and careful approach to how to make the campus safety safer and does not indicate the campus was unsafe before.
Broquard said while he does discourage students from carrying certain weapons, the University does allow students to carry foldable blades under four inches and pepper spray because they are widely accepted as non-lethal and used for self-defense.
“Straight blades over four inches are probably outside of what we want to see in our community,” said Broqaurd. “I am not interested in students having tasers.”
Senior Robbie Custer said he is not uncomfortable with students being armed, even with firearms. He also feels telling students they should not be armed because they might do something are not right.
He also said providing that campus safety officers receive training like what Wanzer went through before receiving his license.
“I think it can be beneficial,” said Curtis. “The good outweighs the bad.”
Sophomore Maggie Gore, a resident assistant for Hutcheson, said she is glad campus safety is taking the first step to being armed because she feels safer and wants the University to be prepared if a shooter did come on campus.
“I see it as fitting,” said Gore.
Gore said she is surprised the campus had not previously armed campus safety officers since most primary and secondary schools in the area do have armed officers.
Gore also “doesn’t see the necessity” of students having firearms especially now campus safety officers are armed.
“They just harm other people more often than not,” said Gore.
Gore said she wants to know her residents can protect themselves but is glad they are less likely to have to if campus safety is armed.
“At some point, freshmen coming in are going to be used to having armed officers in their school. It’s probably going to be more of a change for faculty and staff than students,” said Wanzer.