BY GRAY WHITSETT – OPINIONS EDITOR
Amid criticism and outrage, Centre College’s Director of the Department of Public Safety Gary Bugg has reiterated his strong disapproval of accepting surplus military grade weaponry from the Danville Police Department (DPD).
“It’s a horrible idea,” Bugg said, shoving an M-16A4 off of his desk while making room for another shipment of semi-automatic SPAS-15 shotguns. “This,” he exclaimed, motioning to the crates of weaponry and combat equipment, “this is a recipe for disaster.”
The Department of Public Safety (DPS) has long prided itself on resolving campus conflict without the use of force, and never with lethal weapons. Armed with flashlights, keyrings, and pepper spray, the only heat DPS officers are packing is the steady purr of a freshly charged electric golf kart. But now, that’s all changing.
“The DPD has gotten itself into some trouble,” Director of DPS Kevin Milby said. “And that usually spells bad news for us.”
The DPD has indeed gotten itself into some trouble after agreeing to participate in the United States Defense Department’s 1033 program, in which military surplus can be redistributed to state and local law enforcement. Over the past several years, the city of Danville has accumulated a vast stockpile of these weapons despite the only real crime in Boyle County warranting the award is for the country’s worst drivers, not police militarization. This has prompted the city government to devise a plan for unloading its absurd number of arms, the central provision being to shift their surplus’s surplus onto smaller public safety organizations, like DPS.
“There’s some pretty crazy stuff in here,” officer Randy Boyd said, accidentally discharging a smaller carbine into the coffee cup of officer Charlotte McConaha.
When asked, the officers exhibited unanimous distrust of the weapons and equipment, explaining that they were sent through campus mail and several had been misplaced since the first shipment, including one incident in which officer Rubin Mosley dropped a loaded pistol walking from the post office to Walnut House. The Phi Delt whose golf club it nicked declined to comment.
The struggle of the DPS officers might seem like a reflection of their competency, but it is in line with a series of concerns actual law enforcement officials have with 1033.
“The worst part of this initiative is the lack of training,” Danville Police Chief Anthony Gray Jr. said, who succumbed to federal incentives contingent upon participation in the program. Gray is referencing a troublesome component of the Defense Department’s enterprise: the Pentagon is not required to provide training to the authorities these weapons and equipment are allocated to.
“It would be a lie to say we are anything but underprepared for this,” Director Bugg said.
But DPS’s transparency hasn’t deterred student concern, some of which has blossomed into public activism that has divided the community.
George Gullible, known for jumping on topical issues for social media attention, expressed his vitriol at various group meetings. Gullible has pioneered the #BlackAndGoldLivesMatter movement, raising awareness for a nonissue and deeply offending those who have been affected by actual police violence.
The movement created significant blow black and a proliferation of hashtags followed. The #AllBlackAndGoldLivesMatter hashtag was created for students without a spine and the #NavyBlueLivesMatter, representing the DPS uniforms, was established for students who fundamentally misunderstand police brutality. Others abound—notably #FratLivesMatter and #StrayCatLivesMatter—but the general turmoil has polarized campus discourse and stunted a resolution.
After doing an evening campus patrol on his new mine-resistant ambush-protected golf cart, DPS officer and suspender enthusiast Rick Johnson expressed his signature levelheaded good humor.
“I get the opportunity to injure a student every Friday and Saturday night. At this point, it’s just too much trouble.”
Moving forward, it is hard to know how campus will handle the issue. In fact, some have come out in support of the program.
“I want my public safety officers equipped with whatever means necessary to keep this campus safe,” one such supporter said, though he declined to reveal his identity for fear of being targeted by “Mr. Obama,” the “liberal press,” and “aliens.”
“When [DPS] busts into a room and catches some student smoking pot, I don’t want their safety at risk—they need proper protection.” It was clear the student had never smoked weed and that his outlook was in no way grounded in reality.
For now, 1033’s future at Centre remains to be seen, though some engaged students are pessimistic. They seem to think that most of the community, like most of the country, will forget about this issue until something awful happens, like abuse of authority or outright killing, and because of the nature of the program, the stockpile will only grow bigger and the deficit of proper training larger.
The author is inclined to agree.
Editor’s Note: The previous article is from the CentOnion series, a satirical publication focused on parodying various subjects unique to Centre College’s campus.
As such, all content within this article is purely fictional and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Cento or Centre College.
In addition all quotations used in this article are purely fictional and do not necessarily reflect the views of the individuals quoted.