With the 2016 Presidential Election drawing closer, University Police Major Michael Jagoda discussed the possibility of community unrest that could potentially manifest following the results of the election on Nov. 8, as well as the contingency plans and initiatives university police have prepared.
In addition to normal emergency protocol, university police have received training in preparation for times of community turbulence, Jagoda said.
“We are prepared with contingency plans that follow the community policing philosophies set forth by President Dooley, so that we are equipped to handle all situations we are faced with, in a way that demonstrates the mutual respect our community has,” he said.
He explained that the department has been collaborating with Public Safety, Housing and Residential Life, as well as Student Affairs to make sure all students and the URI community as a whole is safe, in regard to handling the potential risk of community aggression.
“The last thing we want to do is make our community feel as though their rights and liberties are being violated, or that their voices are not being heard,” Jagoda said. “We just want to ensure that community members are expressing these thoughts during this historic moment in a respectful and safe manner that does not endanger other community members.”
Since the start of the semester, campus police have been establishing a rapport with the community, making their presence known and forming an environment of mutual respect, Jagoda explained.
“The community knows of our job responsibilities to embrace and reinforce community values and standards, for the further insurance of campus wide security,” he said.
As far as community outrage, Jagoda said that campus police aren’t too concerned about “potential student unrest” after the new presidential candidate is chosen.
“We have been monitoring social media and so far have no expectations for community backlash following the election results, but it is our responsibility to prepare for the worst,” Jagoda said. “I’d rather have the preparation and not need it than need it and not have it.”
To ensure the safety of the community, following the election results, university police will be out—in uniform and plain clothes—monitoring the situation.
“Our Barlow Circle Substation will be a little more active; if it’s a nice night we’ll have our officers out on bikes,” Jagoda said. “We want to make our presence known, and be vigilant in the event there is a situation we need to handle.”
In the event community members do choose to act out and are disruptive, causing the destruction of property or bringing harm to others, they will be held accountable by the state statute and University conduct standards.
“We have close relations with other campus resources like the fire station, EMS, health services, and emergency manager,” Jagoda explained, “as well as off campus affiliates like the South Kingstown Police Department and Rhode Island Police officers who are ready to respond assist in a moment of crisis.”
Jagoda stated, “we are hoping that we can be a model community and an example for how to express concerns in our orderly fashion, to allow community members to respectfully and peacefully voice their concerns without taking away their freedoms or liberties.”
It is an important message that students have the right to express their thoughts, but to do so in a way that shows respect for the community and members of the community.
As a community member, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and responsible for your actions. Although university police do not anticipate a large reaction from the student body following the results of the election it is imperative to know that any form of violence or retaliation will be met with disciplinary actions from Housing and Residential Life and the Conduct Office.