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American U. students at odds with D.C. group that favors unarmed police

Some American University students are skeptical at claims made by the District of Columbia’s so-called “Peace Team” that unarmed police are “highly effective” at preventing gun violence — in one of the deadliest cities in the country.

According to its website, the DC Peace Team’s mission is to “cultivate the habits and skills of nonviolence in communities, so [it] can better resist injustice, and thus, build a more sustainable just peace.”

The team is a huge proponent of, and utilizes, restorative justice (which has been growing in the nation’s school systems, much to many teachers’ chargrin) and weaponless “civilian protection units.”

According to Peace Team Board Member Sal Corbin (pictured), such methods “emphasize inclusion rather than exclusion […] and punishment.”A former psychology professor, Corbin told The Eagle he grew up in a violent atmosphere where punishment was “swift and severe.”

As such, he wanted to study an alternative. Corbin believes an unarmed police force is “extremely effective” and involves “deploying teams to events where violence or escalation is a possibility.”

Robert Schentrup of the youth gun reform group Team ENOUGH added that “when victims of [gun] violence don’t get help, their natural response is to traumatize other individuals in that same way.

The Peace Team notes it will even intervene in certain situations “with their bodies.”

But The Eagle notes some American U. students are wary. One student said even with stricter gun control, criminals will still find a way to possess firearms, so yes, cops should be armed. Another said disarming police when the threat of a mass shooting is ever-present seems like a bad idea.

American, like other colleges in and around the nation’s capital (Georgetown, Howard) have unarmed campus cops. George Washington University, however, recently decided to arm a small percentage of its officers.

Washington DC’s violent crime is up 10 percent so far this year, and is 147 percent higher than the national average. Other crimes in the city occur at a rate 87 percent higher than the national average.

Even Corbin conceded that “clearly there are circumstances where weaponry is needed.”

“Our goal isn’t to replace law enforcement entirely, but rather give an alternative approach to it that doesn’t necessitate, increase or escalate violence,” he said.

MORE: Cornell student government members expel fellow senators who voted against disarming police

IMAGES: UWWResNET/Flickr.com; Jordan Peer Recovery/Twitter screencap

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