Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Congress Legislates new Campus Control Center

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 748 which will provide for a National Center for Campus Public Safety to help American universities train police and security personnel for possible future violent outbreaks on campuses. This legislation comes as a response to such high profile shooting rampages like Virginia Tech's 2007 massacre that left over 30 dead.

According to the Associated Press, this federally funded national center to streamline and centrally coordinate police responses would receive funds from the Justice Department's COPS program (Community Oriented Policing Services) which began under the Clinton administration. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Robert Scott (D) of Virginia and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) of Texas.

The National Center for Campus Public Safety, if ratified, would divy out grants to campus security services as well as engage in direct training of campus officers. The federal government would be highly active in the strategic planning and instruction of how to respond in different emergency situations.

While such an idea may contain some merit to better bolster safety on college campuses, using such a center as a conduit for more repressive practices will always remain possible. With many universities already having extensive emergency scenarios in place to combat possible school shootings, a federally mandated blueprint for proper response denies local officials their own autonomy in decision making and may even make campuses more dangerous.

And in the slew of now regular student emergency drills and SWAT team-style police training on many college campuses, students are left to wonder what the next piece of university militarization holds for their future.

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