Villanova To Add Armed Police Officers To Its Main Line Campus

Villanova To Add Armed Police Officers To Its Main Line Campus

Villanova University has decided to join other area universities in adding armed police officers to its campus Public Safety Department beginning in the fall 2016 semester.

The decision came after a two-year assessment of the university's security measures. A total of 19 university police officers will be trained to carry sidearms and two to three of these officers will be on-shift at a time to protect the more than 10,000 students on the university's Main Line campus. 

Drexel University, Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, all of which are in Philadelphia, already have armed police forces on campus.

In a letter to the Villanova community, the university's president Father Peter Donohue wrote, "I understand that there is a wide range of opinions surrounding this topic, but the safety of our community is my top priority. We are extremely fortunate that Villanova has been a safe place, but we would be remiss not to consider what has been happening on college campuses across the country. My greatest fear is the loss of a member of our community, particularly as a result of violence on our campus. This decision simply comes down to protecting our community in a time when violent acts at educational institutions are on an alarming upward trend.

"This is a significant change for the University, and I did not make the decision lightly. It's unfortunate, but having university police officers has become standard practice these days. Nearly 70 percent of colleges and universities have police officers on their campuses and 94 percent of those officers are armed."

As noted by Father Donohue, the arming of police on campus is a direct result of the massacres that have occurred in schools nationwide over the past several years — attacks that have jolted the conscience of the nation to a degree not seen since the attack that destroyed the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center and took the lives of several thousand people in 2001.

While having armed police officers on campus seems to be a move in the right direction, it would take a small army to really offer protection to more than 10,000 students and their teachers. As long as guns are easily available, no one is safe — on campus or elsewhere.

Beau Weisman, Editor