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Proposed PASSHE weapons management policy subject of webcast

 Panel to provide information, respond to questions

According to data developed by the Pennsylvania State Police, the 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) university campuses are extraordinarily safe places, experiencing 70 percent fewer serious crimes (“Part 1 Offenses”) than the state average. In some areas crime rates on PASSHE campuses are one-tenth that of the overall region. Of particular importance, crimes involving the use of weapons, including firearms, are among the lowest of all incidents reported. The Board of Governor of the State System is committed to doing everything possible to continue to provide this safe and secure learning environment.  
As part of that effort, the chairman of the Board of Governors in April 2013 established the Public Safety and Security Task Force to review all aspects of university public safety operations.  The task force comprises individuals from within PASSHE as well as outside experts, including representation from the Board of Governors; university councils of trustees; university presidents, students and faculty; local government; and external law enforcement, among others.
As its first assignment, the task force was directed to conduct a thorough review of weapons policies on the PASSHE campuses and to recommend a uniform policy for the System. During their discussions, the members of the task force considered a broad array of information, data and legal opinions, and received input from student leaders, university staff and PASSHE’s various collective bargaining units. Upon completion of its review, the task force developed a draft policy that is consistent with both state and federal laws. The recommended policy would prohibit the possession of “deadly or offensive weapons” in “sensitive areas” on campus. Those areas include residence halls, student union buildings, cafeterias and other indoor and outdoor venues where large numbers of people gather, including sports stadiums.
Throughout the time during which the task force conducted its review, the public was provided the opportunity to submit its comments through a message board on the PASSHE website. In order to provide an additional opportunity for comment and review before the Board considers further action, a webcast featuring System officials will be held beginning at 10 a.m., January 9. The webcast, which may be viewed on this site, will originate from the administration building at the Dixon University Center, 2986 N. Second Street. Harrisburg. Interested persons may participate in the webcast in person or may submit comments or questions in advance via email to:

Why is the policy needed?

Prior to 2012, individual PASSHE university weapons policies varied in scope, format, and to whom they applied (students, staff or visitors). This resulted in potential confusion among students, faculty, staff and visitors as they moved among the many campuses within the System.  The Office of the Chancellor legal staff periodically alerted the universities to changes in federal and state law and to court rulings to assure the campuses had the most current information on this issue.
Between April 2012 and April 2013 eight PASSHE universities developed new policies related to the possession of weapons on campus. Those policies closely mirror the policy under consideration by the Board. Those campuses have not experienced any related changes in crime trends since implementing the new policies. 
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Public Safety and Security Task Force, comprised of representatives from both internal and external constituency groups, will study all aspects of university police operations.

The group is tasked to review campus crime trends; current funding; staffing levels; reporting compliance; staff training; student safety education; threat assessment; university policies; and any other factors deemed appropriate.
At the conclusion of its comprehensive review, the task force will make recommendations on ways the campuses can enhance efforts to ensure the safety and security of students, staff, and campus visitors in the most cost-effective manner for the universities and PASSHE.

​Task Force Members

Joseph F. McGinn
Delaware County sheriff and member of the PASSHE Board of Governors (chair)

Rich Orwig
Chair, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Council of Trustees

Julie Wollman
President, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

Sara J. Dickson
President, Clarion University of Pennsylvania Student Senate; member, PASSHE Board of Governors

Aminta Breaux
Vice President for Student Affairs, Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Christine Shegan, Director of Police Services and Safety, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania

Duane E. Hagelgans, assistant professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Thomas Hearn, Vice President, Local 502 of the Security, Police Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA)

Carolyn Committa, Mayor, Borough of West Chester

Joseph F. Metzinger, special agent and campus liaison agent coordinator, Philadelphia Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Major Andrew Ashmar, Pennsylvania State Police

James Dillon, PASSHE Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance

Steven Dupes, PASSHE Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities

Jamie Shipe, PASSHE relationship manager-labor relations

Jill Fluck, PASSHE university legal counsel


Testimony on School Safety

Dr. Peter H. Garland

Presented June 6, 2013