Georgia Tech student opens conversation on campus police protocol
Scout Shultz, a gay and transgender Georgia Tech student was killed by campus police after being found with weapons by a campus parking garage Sept. 17. Based on the security footage, this was not a blatant act of police brutality, but police officers taking the life of a student raises the question if more could be done.
The video shows three police officers and the lone student. In the available audio, you can hear the student saying, “Shoot me.” Clearly, this is a sign of mental instability. The police pleaded with them, but because they charged at GTPD, lethal shots were fired.
In this instance, the question of campus police protocol comes into play.
Campus police are similar to regular city police because the nature of their jobs is to protect the people and keep their jurisdictions safe. They have less lethal, alternative weapons that can be used to maintain the situation, like an expandable baton and OC spray.
Depending on the situation, they also have shotguns equipped beanbag rounds.
With these precautions and training for a confined campus setting, why do officers need a lethal weapon? Because they are like any other police officer — a firearm is necessary for the nature of their job.
Police Lt. Bret Collier is the public information officer who has been working with the University of Houston Police Department for the past 20 years.
“We have had occasions that called for a degree of force,” Collier said. “None of our officers have had the need to discharge a firearm.”
While admirable, UHPD is not the representative for all campus police. In most altercations, law enforcement officers outnumber the suspect they are trying to subdue. Since this is a student, it is imperative that that campus police use their lethal firearms as an absolute last result.
Firearms are not a tool to quickly end a situation; they are to regain control when absolutely necessary. The direness of a situation is subjective, but all training must be utilized when a student is involved.
This is not just for the sake of the student, the family or even the school. This is for the community to re-establish trust with the police force. If it is perceived that police pose a threat to students, then the police-student relationship will be hostile.
The police also provide absolute safety for the campus. Not a sense of safety, but absolute. If this I broken or flawed, it affects campus enrollment as well.
The campus police, whether they are in Georgia, Texas or anywhere else, need to continue to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities.
Opinion Editor Dana Jones is a print journalism junior and can be reached at [email protected].