Guns on campus could cost BSU $1 million a year

Boise State's football team holds its Spring Game scrimmage for fans at Bronco Stadium Saturday April 12, 2014.

Boise State University needs an estimated $500,000 for the upcoming school year to initiate a three-year security ramp-up that likely will include expanding and arming its college security force.

Officials at the state’s largest university say the added security is needed under a law the Legislature passed — and signed by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter — that allows concealed weapons on campuses starting July 1.

Boise State also is considering ways to check people coming into venues such as the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, the newly renamed Albertsons Stadium, Taco Bell Arena and the Student Union Building. Concealed weapons aren’t allowed in those facilities under the new law because each is an entertainment venue that holds at least 1,000 people.

Among the questions the university seeks to answer:

n When will it be appropriate to do a bag search?

n When will metal detecting wands be advised?

n Or metal detectors?

The school will have to balance public safety and ways to move large crowds efficiently, said Kevin Satterlee, Boise State’s vice president for operations and general counsel. ”We want to do it the right way.”

Campuses talk security

Boise State, the University of Idaho and Idaho State University have been holding campus security discussions since the Legislature overwhelmingly approved the bill earlier this year.

The law will allow retired police officers and people who earn enhanced concealed-weapons permit to carry hidden guns on campus. The permits require special training and background checks.

Leaders of all three universities argued against the bill, saying it would increase safety risks.

The universities are expected to present preliminary budget estimates for enhanced security June 18 and 19 at a State Board of Education meeting in Idaho Falls. Universities will be expected to present preliminary security plans by August.

The board will also consider adopting a statewide policy banning all other guns on campus. Universities currently have individual policies.

More officers at BSU

Boise State University is considering nearly doubling its full-time security force to about 18, in addition to 15 part-time security officers. The new hires would be armed, Satterlee said. The school hopes to get the new guards trained in weapons through the state Peace Officer Standards and Training program. The security force would not be armed until fall 2015.

Boise State’s estimated $1 million annual price tag includes costs of adopting other security practices unrelated to the new law, school officials said.

Boise State also plans to post signs at the big venues indicating that weapons aren’t allowed and that visitors could be subjected to metal detectors or wand scans by security officers, Satterlee said.

Entertainment acts coming to venues such as the Taco Bell Arena frequently require people attending the show to undergo extra security checks as part of their contracts.

ISU: Limited gun venues

Idaho State University is discussing arming security officers on the main campus in Pocatello, although no decision has been made.

ISU hasn’t totaled the cost for improving security, said Adrienne King, director of marketing and communications.

But King said it could be “significant.”

ISU expects to keep concealed weapons out of three of facilities:

n The Meridian Health Science Center — a building at 1311 E. Central Drive in Meridian that is shared with the Meridian School District’s Renaissance High School and other high school programs. Weapons still are prohibited in public schools.

n The Research and Innovation in Science and Engineering Complex on ISU’s Pocatello campus, which houses radiation sources covered by federal rules that prohibit the presence of firearms.

n The Idaho Falls-based Center for Advanced Energy Studies, a joint project with other universities and Idaho National Laboratory. It, too, is exempt under federal rules.

ISU’s Meridian campus, with 652 students, shares a cafeteria, library, exercise room and hallway with 600 students at Renaissance, said Eric Exline, a spokesman for the Meridian School District. Students from both schools also are in a common hallway. The district houses an additional 600 professional-technical students in the building.

Few changes at UI

A 13-person task force working on security at the University of Idaho likely won’t recommend arming security officers or making any major changes in security for people at venues such as the Kibbie Dome, said Matt Dorschel, executive director for public safety and security. It may not ask for any additional money, either.

“I don’t think the law necessarily makes the university less safe,” he said. “We don’t think we need to ramp up our security measures.”

The University of Idaho relies on the Moscow Police Department when problems occur, and the department has done a good job, Dorschel said.

His task force will produce a report for university President Chuck Staben, Dorschel said.

Dorschel said U of I is a safe campus. Bu that safety was rocked in August 2011 by the off-campus slaying of Katy Benoit, a graduate student from Boise, by her psychology professor, Ernesto Bustamante. Bustamante then killed himself.

“It was a relationship that went tragically wrong,” said Bruce Pitman, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students. “We have learned a number of lessons about how to help students and others who feel threatened or in distress to use resources (and) to make sure our resources are deployed appropriately, so students and faculty and staff will feel comfortable in coming forward and reporting circumstances where they are uncomfortable.”

CWI seeks money

The College of Western Idaho has submitted a preliminary budget request of $245,000 to the State Board of Education for fiscal year 2016 to pay for the law.

The community college, which serves Ada and Canyon counties, is considering arming its security force, increasing lock-down capabilities for several of its classrooms and providing training.

No final decisions have been made.