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NMSU Police prepared in event of protests or riots

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Stephanie Frisch

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Tailgating Responsibly
September 22, 2017

With recent protests across the country, university police officers are preparing in case a violent protest breaks out on their campus.

The NMSU campus has not held a violent riot in decades, and the Chief of NMSU Police, Stephen Lopez, said that this has a lot to do with the students themselves. Lopez said that the students have the right to speak their minds, but have usually done so in a non-violent manner.

A few things that university police would employ to keep riots non-violent are crowd management and crowd control. This means that there would be a police presence to keep groups separate and safe, whether it is simply by a line of officers, or through the use of barricades.

“The actual day of those riots should be a culmination of a lot of preparation,” Lopez said. “This includes training, equipment, actually looking at time place and manner restrictions that might be placed on the event.”

In recent news, there have been several riots which bring attention to NMSU’s police.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, police tried to stay out of the riots, and things quickly turned violent, causing three deaths and 35 serious injuries. However, in Phoenix, Arizona, protesters and supporters of President Trump were kept separate by an active police barrier, and through the use of tear gas.

For NMSU police, keeping violence to a minimum is a major goal.

“Crowd management helps lessen the impact or potential for violence,” said Lopez. “Such as keeping opposing groups separate, the use of barricades that cannot be easily moved, and the use of hard barricades which keep vehicles from entering the area”.

The NMSU Police Department assures students and faculty at NMSU that if alternative right or militant left held a hate rally, they would be stopped regardless of political affiliation.

“All of our officers swear to uphold the Constitution, and that is what we use as the guiding principle. It does not matter whether we agree with people’s position or not, we will protect their rights,” explained Lopez.

Campus police will try to stop any violent riots that may break out on campus, but cannot control all people who are expressing opinions. Lopez said “The difference is when it becomes violent, or becomes what are called fighting words”.

As far as policies go, NMSU police believe they have been ahead of many other campuses. In the past few years, there have been peaceful protests and controversial speakers on campus. Lopez said, “With minimal police staffing and proper planning, things went really smoothly without any violence”.

“NMSU has been leading the country in this area for quite a few years, and we have one of the best freedom of expressions policies, and we revamped it about 19-20 months ago for the university. We believe we’re way out ahead of most other places” said Lopez.

For now, Lopez pledges that he and the rest of the university police department will assist the NMSU community in keeping the campus hate free.

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The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907
NMSU Police prepared in event of protests or riots