POCATELLO, Idaho - Idaho State University Campus Safety director Stephen Chatterton can't even walk across the Student Union Building parking lot without fielding questions from people walking by about the new concealed carry laws on campus.
Thursday marks the final day of the State Board of Education's two-day talks surrounding a number of issues, including the statewide implementation of the new concealed carry law approved by state lawmakers this past legislative session. Late Wednesday afternoon, the board gave the final approval.
This will be the first time campus security guards will have ever been allowed to openly carry firearms on campus, and Chatterton said they have been gearing up for this.
"We are most concerned about people coming onto campus that might not be of upstanding character, and that is a problem going on across the nation right now, particularly on other school campuses and in K-12 schools," Chatterton said. "It's unfortunate that we live in that day and age, but we need the opportunity to make it safe for our students that are here."
Chatterton said the eight current campus security officers have already had to go through the standard post police officer training program before being hired at ISU's department of campus safety. So, technically, they are certified police officers after graduating from the post program.
Until this point, those officers were not allowed to carry concealed weapons, but Chatterton said with this new law in place, they will step-up the training even more and add enhanced training to their courses, including training on how to deal with an active shooter on campus.
If this situation were to ever arise in the past, these officers were taught how to restrain the individual without the possibility of using deadly force, until Pocatello police officers arrived at the scene.
However, if the scene was not safe enough for an unarmed officer to approach, they had to wait until further help arrived, and that could take up to two-to-five minutes.
Chatterton said they will still go through the same protocol and alert the police department, but now the campus safety officers will be able to safely approach the situation and be better help to law enforcement officers when they finally arrive.
"Now, because we are armed, we can assist the city police in helping them to arrive at the more exact location because our officers are more familiar with our buildings and building layouts than the local police are," Chatterton added.
ISU director of Marketing and Communications Adrienne King said she has also been fielding tons of questions from parents, students, and faculty members about this issue.
She would like to remind everyone that the law prohibits firearms in any facility that seats more than 1,000 people. This would include athletic facilities such as Holt Arena, the Stephens Performing Arts Theater, and even residence halls.
She added there are some additional facilities which don't allow firearms, such as classrooms containing high school students. For example, the Meridian campus has a shared space with the public school district, so firearms will not be allowed inside those buildings.
However, facilities such as the ISU child day care center allow concealed carry inside since, by law, that facility does not constitute as a school.
Here is a list King compiled of places on campus where weapons are prohibited: All dorms, campus apartment buildings, and residence halls; Albion Hall, Holt Arena, Reed Gym, Davis Field, the Stephens Performing Arts Center, the Engineering Building, the RISE complex, the CAES building in Idaho Falls, and the Meridian Campus.
But, if you can't remember where weapons are permitted on campus, they will be posting signs across campus reminding people which buildings allow them and which do not.
King said nothing is yet set in stone. In fact, she said the school is still in talks with the state and will continue to do so until all of the kinks are worked out.
"Since this is a multi-phased process, we are still in the process of finalizing what the cost of implementing this will be, including phase-one, which is arming the officers, simply because we are still going through what kind of training will be needed for our officers to ensure they can safely carry on this campus," King said.
She added it's important for the public to know that any time they have any questions, they can call the school or public safety.
"Know that we are hearing everyone's concerns and that we are doing everything to alleviate that, and we have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure this campus remains safe. Idaho State has had a great history of being one of the safest college campuses in the country and we are committed to making sure it stays that way," King addressed.
In the end, Chatterton said he hopes his officers never have to use this type of force.
The new will take effect starting July 1.