With the coming of the new concealed carry policy, postcards have been put up on the second floor of the library which state “NEW POLICY EFFECTIVE. JULY 1, 2017. Any items left unattended will be immediately be collected by the police. See lost and found on the first floor of the Carlsen Center.”
These postcards can be confusing since they make it seem like this is a brand new policy. Library Director Mark Daganaar acknowledged the confusion.
“Where we say ‘new policy,’ it’s really a procedural guideline,” Daganaar said. “The part that’s probably a little misleading is that it got printed out as ‘policy’ and we decided [to leave them] rather than reprint them and waste paper. Policies are approved by the board, and this is just a practice, so it’s not at that level.”
Prior to this policy’s adoption, the library staff took unattended items to the front desk and then called the campus police. Now, however, they now simply call the campus police first and do not even look inside the item.
“Now with concealed carry, we want to minimize handling those items even more,” Daganaar said. “So, we won’t pick up the bag, we’ll call when we see that it’s left unattended, and then let the campus police determine if there’s identification with it to be able to get it back to its owner.”
Unlike the library staff, Crime Prevention Officer Dan Robles explained the police department will check the contents of the bag so they can return it.
“It’s not about looking in there to see if there’s a gun in there,” Robles said. “It’s about trying to find the owner of it. We do check the contents of backpacks to kind of see what’s in there. We’ve got to count money, laptops, phones. What we do with that information is, we try to get a hold of the person.”
Although the campus police did not know the postcards had been put up at first, they were fine with them since students who carry a firearm need to know they have to bear responsibility.
“Things as simple as going to the restroom, you’ve got to know where it’s at,” Robles said. “The choice that you made is you came to school deciding you’re 21, legal, you want to do it, and you’re going to carry a firearm, then that’s what you [have] to do.”
While student Christopher Bartlette said he is always careful about not losing his stuff, he thinks the procedure could help other people be more cautious.
“I mean, it takes somebody to have to deal with that situation,” Bartlette said. “If they left their laptop on the table, and it got stolen, it [would] kind of wake them up.”
Bartlette also believes the procedure makes sense and finds it reassuring.
“It’s kind of an assumed thing,” Bartlette said. “If anything’s left behind, then I would hope the police would take it with them.”
So far, Robles has only seen positive responses from students when they recover items.
“The only thing I see is big smiles,” Robles said. “Nobody has ever said anything, they’re just glad to get their stuff back. We’re not finding drugs. We’re not finding guns, knives, nothing. [Only] what kids bring to school.”
If a firearm is found in an unattended backpack, the owner will not be arrested, but the situation will be dealt with as a behavioral issue for a firearm unattended.
The weapons policy can be seen here.