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Student group asks Auraria Campus police to not accept weapons from DOD program

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Posted at 3:42 PM, Feb 21, 2023

DENVER — Students for a Democratic Society-Denver is continuing to call on Auraria Campus Police to limit its participation in the 1033 LESO DoD Excess Property Program which allows the Department of Defense to give local police departments surplus equipment, including weapons.

“On the Auraria campus, we’ve been calling for the police department to withdraw from the 1033 program. The 1033 program is a program that they can get military weapons from the Department of Defense, so like M16s and military vehicles,” Shaine Carroll-Frey, organizer for Students for a Democratic Society-Denver said during a demonstration against police brutality on Feb. 1.

Denver7 researched the exact equipment campus police received and found the department accepted nine reflex sights and one unmanned vehicle.

According to campus police, the unmanned vehicle is essentially a bomb robot that can enter dangerous areas and the reflex sights are not military-specific and are available for anyone in the civilian market to purchase.

But Students for a Democratic Society-Denver member Geral Mueller said she’s still concerned.

“My stance doesn't change because of the fact that just being a part of this program and knowing that they could have access to so many things that are completely unnecessary and completely dangerous,” Mueller said.

Student group asks Auraria Campus police to not accept weapons from DOD program

Mueller said the organization started a petition stating if campus police continue to participate in the program, they should never receive weapons.

“We had at least 500 signatures on our petition about it ... it has been endorsed by the United Campus Workers, the MSU Black Student Alliance and the Auraria Cross-Disability Coalition,” Mueller said. “Things like golf carts and binoculars, I'd rather not have student funds pay for that. But we need to know that we can trust them in this program by agreeing not to purchase any more weapons.”

In a statement to Denver7, Auraria Campus Police Department Interim Chief of Police Jason Mollendor said his department's approach to policing is "community-focused."

“The Auraria Campus Police Department (ACPD) is committed to the safety of all students, faculty, and staff on the Auraria Campus. Every day we work to create a safe and welcoming environment for everyone to learn and grow. We also understand the importance of being prepared for any situation that could pose a threat to our community, these preparations do not include the use or possession of military weapons.

ACPD’s approach to policing is community-focused, and we welcome questions regarding our approach to peace enforcement. Concurrently, Auraria Higher Education Center’s (AHEC) senior leadership team has extended several invitations to, and met with, the Students for Democratic Society over the past several months to address and respond to their questions regarding this issue."

Mueller said the Auraria Board of Directors will vote on the petition later this year.

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