San Francisco Community College Police Officer Alfred Chang patrols the City College of San Francisco Ocean Campus in San Francisco, Calif. Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (Jessica Christain/S.F. Examiner)

CCSF advisory council shoots down proposal to arm campus police

Interim Chancellor Susan Lamb is still deciding whether to recommend arming police at City College of San Francisco after her advisory council shot down a proposal Thursday to equip campus officers with firearms.

The Participatory Governance Council voted 9-2 in favor of providing officers with anti-bias training and establishing a committee to oversee public safety, while leaving out a section of the proposal to equip police with firearms, stun guns and body cameras. Four members abstained.

“I’m taking it under consideration, all of the information” said Lamb, whose tenure ends next month. The college is currently deciding among four finalists for the permanent position.

The issue of whether to arm officers has long divided administrators and staff from students and faculty, with the latter groups typically concerned about the potential for a police shooting on campus.

Chief Andre Barnes, who proposed the equipment, committee and training, said he felt a professional and ethical responsibility to bring his department up to industry standards.

A campus security consultant hired to recommend whether to arm campus police recently uncovered a series of campus safety shortcomings including a lack of training under the Clery Act that may lead to the inaccurate reporting of crimes like sexual assault.

“We’re always going to try and improve the quality of our police department,” Barnes said. “Those things were more quality improvement issues that any police department should want to do. I read the report and I’m in concert with all of those things. We’ll move forward with most of those [recommendations].”

The report, from the firm Margolis Healy, recommended training as well as arming officers.

The proposal Thursday also included use-of-force and crisis intervention training, which the San Francisco Police Department has emphasized as important following increased scrutiny of fatal police shootings in recent years.

The vote was a reversal from the decision to recommend arming police that the PGC made in March, when it voted 7-4 in favor of the proposal. That same proposal failed 8-7 on Thursday, with faculty and students against and classified staff and administrators in support.

The council voted for a second time because of concerns that it violated open meeting laws with a vague description of the item on the agenda, catching the public and some PGC members by surprise.

This time, the room was packed with dozens of students, faculty and community members who were split on the issue, with faculty members and students wearing red in opposition.

“Arming police, it will not stop someone from bringing a firearm and killing 30 to 40 students,” said Student Trustee Bouchra Simmons. “We need to really talk about more creative ways about how we can stay safe.”

Michael Snider, a phlebotomist at CCSF, was one of the classified staff members who wanted to arm police.

“The police are pulling people over at night, in their cars,” Snider said. “It just doesn’t make sense for them to not have the proper equipment.”

The CCSF Board of Trustees will ultimately decide whether to arm or train police and roll out a public safety committee.

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