As the debate continues over whether Portland State should have armed officers on campus, many are looking to other universities’ safety models for comparison. PSU is included in a group of universities informally referred to as the Urban 21, a collection of four-year colleges that have self-identified as having similar demographics and settings.
As the debate continues over whether Portland State should have armed officers on campus, many are looking to other universities’ safety models for comparison.
PSU is included in a group of universities informally referred to as the Urban 21, a collection of four-year colleges that have self-identified as having similar demographics and settings.
The unifying factor for the Urban 21 is that all universities on the list have campuses that sit in the middle of an urban community in a major U.S. city, thus posing a unique set of challenges most universities don’t have to deal with.
Being grouped into the Urban 21 allows universities to compare their operations with other schools that face similar issues.
Urban 21 universities include the University of Illinois, Chicago; the University of Pittsburgh; the University of Houston; the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and others.
When drawing comparisons between the Urban 21 universities’ safety models, PSU stands out as the only university without a sworn campus police department.
Every other college on the list has a fully sworn campus police department, most with a mixture of sworn police officers and unarmed security officers.
The Urban 21
Portland State University
University of Alabama,
University of Missouri, St. Louis
University of Cincinnati
University of Missouri, Kansas City
Cleveland State University
University of New Orleans
Florida Ag and Mech University
City College of New York
Georgia State University
University of Pittsburgh
University of Houston
University of Illinois, Chicago
Indiana University, Purdue
University of Toledo
University of Massachusetts, Boston
Virginia Commonwealth University
University of Memphis
Wayne State University
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Temple University in Philadelphia has the highest number of sworn police officers in its agency, with 118, while the University of Missouri, St. Louis, has only 22.
But there is another school without armed officers, even though it has a sworn campus police department staffed with 50 police officers: City College of New York, located in New York City.
City University of New York runs the CCNY, said Lt. Anthony Laperuta of CCNY’s Public Safety Department. CUNY has 24 different campuses in New York City, some of which have armed officers, like the Bronx Community College, and some that don’t, like CCNY, he said.
“Every campus has a different policy based on that college’s president,” Laperuta said. “We have people who are trained and able [to carry firearms] but it’s the college’s present decision [that we not carry firearms].”
Similar to the recent talks at PSU, there is a lot of discussion about changing CCNY’s safety department’s ability to carry firearms, although the outcome is still unknown, Laperuta said.
“[College] shootings are becoming a frequent thing—a copycat thing. My personal feeling is we should be armed for the nature of what we do,” he said.
CCNY’s safety department has been serving as a law enforcement agency for the college for over 20 years. Being around for that long, it has a good working relationship with the New York Police Department, Laperuta said.
“We work very closely with the local police department; we train with them. We have a good rapport with them,” he said.
Like PSU’s Campus Public Safety Office, CCNY’s Public Safety Department officers carry only asp batons and pepper spray.
CCNY has 16,000–17,000 students on campus and the campus itself spreads across approximately 10 city blocks, while PSU has approximately 29,000 students enrolled and a 50-acre campus.