By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
ISU cancels order for 11 AR-15 rifles
Placeholder Image

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho State University has canceled an order for 11 AR-15 rifles for its campus security detail.

Associate Vice President Phil Moessner said Monday the school in southeastern Idaho ordered the weapons in August to have them on hand in case of a campus shooting. The order was canceled last month.

“The original decision to purchase the weapons had to do with how we would deal with an active shooter on campus,” Moessner said. “On second consideration, we determined it was in everybody’s best interest if we let the local SWAT team deal with that sort of issue, and that our officers on campus would deal with containing the situation.”

The order’s cancellation follows concerns among local law enforcement agencies that the school’s Campus Public Safety officers overstepped their authority on various occasions, though university spokeswoman Adrienne King said the issues were unrelated.

In September, city officials in Pocatello said campus security delayed calling police after an assistant chemistry professor shot himself in the foot during a lecture when a gun in his pocket went off. By the time city police arrived, the scene had been cleaned up.

In late December, the director of the Idaho State Police rescinded permission for university security vehicles to use red lights after saying campus officers used the lights to stop motorists on and around the campus and issue traffic citations. The authorized use of the red lights was only to alert motorists, not stop them, Idaho State Police said.

On other occasions, the city said, campus security administered an alcohol breath test on a driver before calling police and seized marijuana from a dorm room without notifying police for three days.

Unlike some other large universities that have their own police departments, safety officers at ISU don’t have broad authority. But campus officers can make citizens’ arrests and detain individuals for questioning by the police. Campus officers are certified under Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training. They must also meet annual firearm qualification requirements.

Last week, the school announced the retirement of Stephen Chatterton, director of Public Safety. Moessner said Chatterton’s retirement after 23 years wasn’t related to the AR-15 order or concerns about campus officers overstepping authority.

“It was an administrative decision based on our reassessment of what we would do in case of an active shooter on campus,” King said. “We do have a good working relationship with our local law enforcement and if we did have something like that we would seek out their assistance.”

Lawmakers in 2014 passed legislation allowing concealed weapons on Idaho’s public college and university campuses despite opposition from every university college president. Idaho State, which has about 15,000 students, responded by arming its security officers with Glock 9mm handguns.

Moessner told the Idaho State Journal that the school might still have to pay for some of the cost of the guns. He didn’t provide an estimate.