February 21, 2017
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator
Chancellor Steve Wrigley Speaks Against House Bill 280
Dr. Steve Wrigley, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, testified before the House Public Safety Committee on House Bill 280, commonly referred to as Campus Carry, on Monday, Feb. 20. His testimony appears below:
Chairman Powell and members of the committee, on behalf of the University System of Georgia, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today about House Bill 280.
The campus carry issue has been before you many times through the years. I know you all understand our position and we understand yours as well.
Campus safety is a top priority for us, and we appreciate that it is for you.
Last summer, Governor Deal requested a campus safety report from the University System and Technical College System. Those reports were delivered to the Governor, Speaker and Lieutenant Governor in August 2016.
The report provides an overview of our efforts to keep our campuses safe. Prior to this, we had a System-wide task force on campus safety and since 2015, the University System has implemented more than 20 recommendations from that report.
Here are a few of the steps we have taken. We began with a comprehensive assessment of our police departments and have implemented System-wide police officer training programs focused on active shooter scenarios. We have developed mutual aid agreements with local law enforcement and established campus safety committees that meet regularly.
We also made a commitment to adding more front-line officers at all of our campuses.
This fiscal year we are increasing the number of police officers System-wide by 6%. We now employ 818 full-time, POST-certified officers across the System.
Our campus police forces are also investing in new technologies and devising new ways not only to catch criminals but prevent crimes from occurring. All of our institutions have mass communication alert systems and camera surveillance.
Many schools are adopting new apps on their phones for campus-wide crime alerts.
Georgia Tech has implemented an advanced crime analytics system. And Georgia State has increased the number of controlled access points to ensure only those permitted have access to certain areas.
We know there is not a perfect solution to crime prevention. But these types of investments and efforts, coupled with the year-round training for our campus police forces, are critical to providing a safe environment to learn.
With respect to campus carry, we feel strongly that current law strikes the right balance to create a safe environment on our campuses. This position is supported by our presidents and campus public safety departments, who are closest to the day-to-day realities and operations of the state’s public colleges and universities. We therefore respectfully oppose any change to current law.
In closing, I want to repeat that keeping our students, faculty and staff safe is a top priority for all of us. We have made it clear to our presidents that funding of police positions should get first claim on their budget dollars. We have made strides in training, planning and monitoring and will continue to do all we can to keep our campuses safe.
You face many complex issues every year. I respect what you do and we appreciate the support you show the University System every year. You are always willing to let us offer our point of view, and for that we are grateful.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony today. Thank you.