"We can't predict the future," Trustee Shirley Edgerton said. "I'd prefer to be proactive and be armed and at least ready to protect."
The implementation, set for the next school year, will come at an initial cost of $24,635 and $6,026 annually. All officers — including those who are already trained — will go through firearms training with the state Criminal Justice Training Council before carrying a weapon.
According to the school's Director of Public Safety Joseph Charon, an oversight committee will be formed and will start with reviewing and updating campus policies so that they are in line with state and federal standards. Later the department will phase in purchasing equipment with training officers. The officers will also take a suitability screening before being issued a firearm.
"A new chapter begins for the MCLA campus police," Charon said.
Trustee Richard Lamb added an amendment that calls for the school to review the decision during the first year after implementation.
The lone vote against the move was from student Trustee Jaynelle Bellemore, who cited accidental discharges and said the weapons add a "negative" and "unsafe" feelings to the campus. Arming the police would change the relationship students have with campus police, she said.
In the past, neighbors, students and staff have all argued that firearms were unneeded because violent crimes are not on the rise at the school. In December, a poll conducted by the school's Student Government Association showed only 32 percent of the students supported the move. The Faculty Association also conducted two polls — one that showed only 7 percent of department chairs and only 13 percent of faculty members supported it. The Association of Public Administrators also disapproved of the move but by only one vote.
However, the conversation started with a state Department of Higher Education recommendation for arming was supported by the city's Police Department. Trustees said there is a liability if the officers do not have guns.
Charon previously argued for the weapons because his department has sworn police officers with the same training and responsibilities as any other police force, particularly with their "duty to act." The campus police need to act if they see a crime anywhere and with the campus now expanding farther into the city, the officers are being put at risk if they come upon a crime, he said. Additionally, the number of violent crimes and school shootings is increasing nationally, proponents argued.
The difference between sworn officers and security guards is what swayed the vote for Trustee William Dudley, a Williams College professor who said he would not vote to arm Williams' campus but would for MCLA. Williams College is patrolled by security guards who do not have the same responsibilities.
Board Chairman Stephen Crowe said this was the "most difficult" decision the board has made in a long time and praised the nine months of conversation and study that led to the decision.
"It's been a very engaged conversation... this doesn't mean you weren't heard," Grant told the room filled with students. "I lie awake at night worrying about safety."
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I know all of the negative comments are-a-comin'. The Trustees did the right thing. Those who are opposed have said things like, "Wait until one of those rent-a-cops accidentally shoots a student," and "why do we have to have guns on a non-violent campus..." Well, first of all, all of the officers were trained at the state police academy and are certified to carry firearms, and most already do as police officers in their own towns, where they also work. Second, no one said there is violence on this campus - that's not the point. Simon's Rock was a nice quaint little campus until Wayne Lo started shooting. Since 2009, there have been 14 shootings at college campuses in this country, and numerous other incidents at schools. A campus officer carrying mace or a taser is no match for someone with a gun. The campus police are not going to go around firing off their weapons at students, which has been one of the idiotic statements I've heard made by, of all people, professors at this college. I thought they were smarter. Most other state colleges have armed police forces, and no incidents have been reported - no students shot by accident, no officers running around campus showing off and firing their guns. I wish we didn't have to have campus police with guns, but it's the world we live in.
I have to say the MCLA Campus Police are not just Police Officers but Special State Police Officers. I don't think a lot of people know this. They attend a State Police Academy and are no different than a State Trooper. This is a great idea, and will attend more training and by the way the bad guy that is carrying a weapon does not see if the Officer has a gun they see an Officer. The badge is all they see. With that said it's about time.
I hope this decision causes an uproar amongst the MCLA students and community. The amount of care these trustees have about the thoughts and cares of the students are incredulous. I cannot believe that in spite of the overwhelming dissaproval that this decision was made, or even possible. There were not nearly enough opportunity for student voices to be heard, even though it is the students who will be coming into contact with this arming more than anyone else. It is a sad day for the students of MCLA, and a loss for the community to rely on the use of deadly force.
What possible reason could there be for MCLA security guards to ever need pistols? Are they going to shoot drivers who double park?
The MCLA campus is a sleepy, happy little place. The idea that the folks responsible for maintaining safety and enforcing the rules there would need guns to do it is just plain silly. They don't need guns and never will.
This is a boneheaded move and a disaster waiting to happen. The Board of Trustees should have listened a lot more attentively to the wisdom of the MCLA students.
It's obvious the students opposed to this move simply do not understand the ramifications of what could happen with an unarmed campus Police force. Violence does not discriminate. Ask the students in Columbine or Virginia Tech if they thought there'd be a mass-murder during a day of classes. I'd rather attend class knowing that if someone with a screw loose decides to become an active shooter, my campus police can respond with more than just pepper spray and batons...Granted NAPD isn't THAT far from MCLA campus, but during one of those instances, response time is critical...and having armed police ON CAMPUS can help save lives.
The Virginia Tech example, in which we supposedly require armed security guards at MCLA to protect us from a shooting madman, is faulty logic for two reasons.
First, even heavily armed, highly trained SWAT pros rarely engage the shooter in those sad, scary scenarios. Just as they did at Virginia Tech, they almost always do nothing more than secure the site after the damage is done.
Second, the Virginia Tech example is circuitous thinking at its best, and is really nothing more than the standard gun nut's paranoid rationale for arming everyone, everywhere. (It was a little surprising that the Board of Trustees took the bait. The students and faculty were smarter.) Translated, it reads, "Better lock and load, because a madman could show up in your den this instant!"
And while it may be true that MCLA security guards are on a legal par with state officers, unless they all have second jobs as full-time police officers or state troopers, they simply won't maintain sufficient training, nor will they accumulate the level of experience necessary, to continue to carry a weapon responsibly in the midst of what is a peaceful, nearly crime-free campus culture.
Guns on the MCLA campus carried by its security guards present the availability of a completely disproportionate response. In the course of their daily job, they have never encountered, and never will encounter, the level of criminal situation that requires lethal force. We better all hope they have the wisdom of Solomon.
This is truly a sad sad sad day...If I was a student at MCLA this would be a revolution! Are you kidding me, guns, guns kill animals and people, theres on other use for them...On a college campus in the Berkshires....This is outrageous and I urge the student body to PROTEST, this is wrong, Mary Grant what has happened to you, honestly....one incident last year and now the Campus Police are armed, what are you going to do when they shoot a student andkill them, will it be worth it then.....SHOCKED, OUTRAGED...
I wonder how the trustees will feel the day campus safety shoots an innocent student. More people go to Walmart than MCLA. Should Walmart security be allowed to carry guns? Clean up in isle nine...bring body bag.
Editor: I don't know why people automatically assume the worst. There's no indication an "innocent" student will be shot by campus police anymore than one would by city police. It's a legitimate issue to argue but this rush to worst-case scenario usually undermines it.
Ironically, Williams votes for guns at the poor kid, riff-raff campus but wants no part of guns on the Williams campus. If Williams wanted guns on campus they would arrange to have them even, if they had to abandon the Security Guard concept.
Hey Just Sayin, How many cops do you think are on patrol in North Adams now? From what I can ascertain, maybe 2 during the week and 3 on a weekend. Do you own a scanner? Get one and listen to how many calls they handle on any given night. I believe it was the Berkshire Eagle that listed a chart of state colleges where the officers carry guns, and it was the vast majority. How may students shot to date at those campuses? Those of you who are nervous around guns, shouldn't own them. The rest of us were brought up with them and can handle them just fine. And the students that felt they weren't heard, they don't have to take your feelings into consideration.
Actually, Mr. Bad Move... you're wrong. Before Columbine, it was standard police practice to not engage a shooter first, but that changed BECAUSE of Columbine. Police officers are now trained to immediately enter the property with their weapons drawn and to eliminate the threat before anything else, including taking care of victims. They do this because Columbine taught them the valuable lesson that you need to act fast and neutralize the threat first, and then and only then would be it be safe for ambulance and fire crews to move in and help the wounded. I've attended several drills conducted by area police who are part of the county's Rapid Response Team, and those drills confirm this. Read the excellent book, Columbine, and your eyes may be opened a little wider when it comes to how authorities deal with "active shooter" scenarios.
I would just like to say that there was more going on with this than most people would even like to know. Notice that Mr. Charon had a speech typed and ready thanking the Trustees for their vote in favor of this topic. When Students came into the room holding signs protesting this, President Grant stands up and whispers into the ears of the panel members. I hope that everyone starts to question this topic more and more to uncover the smell of foul play.
Rumors about the state cutting the role of Presidents at Community Colleges could turn into rumors of State Colleges no longer having a President. Arming campus police could prevent the rumor from taking place.
I believe that this is much deeper than "protecting the students and community".
I can't say I agree at all with this decision or how it went about. I urge all alumnus to reconsider when it comes time to asking for donations. I wouldn't and don't want to support an institution like this.
Yes Editor I do believe they should be ignored. We don't always get what we want in life. If something happens on that campus and it could have been prevented with the presence of armed campus police, are the students getting sued? No the school administration will be under the microscope.
I think the true travesty here, is the uneducated mentality of the MCLA student body and fellow MCLA community. I guess why it�s no longer North Adams State College, but now Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. You needed the �Liberal� to show everyone how narrow-mined you truly are. The MCLA campus has changed drastically over the past few years, with Home Invasions, Drugs, Assaults and Rapes. It isn�t the quaint little school it once was.
Congratulations to the MCLA Campus POLICE. That�s right, POLICE!!! If you are called Police, you should care a firearm. If you are Security, like our neighbors to the west (Williams College), they you should not carry a firearm. That is why the Berkshire Mall has Pyramid Security with radios and flashlights, but not firearms.
MCLA Campus Police are trained at the Massachusetts State Police academy and maintain a level of law enforcement duties that Security could not even fathom.
@Editor - Hmm, that opens up another issue: Can armed campus police prevent something happening? Discuss.
Yes, I hope so. They are Police, and have the same powers that a North Adams Police Officer has. They can investigate crimes, make traffic stops on campus property, and enforce laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Their duties will not change for simply because they now carry firearms. They now just have the proper tools to do the job that is asked of them, that of being a sworn Police Officer.
What someone believes is right when they are in college changes after a couple years in the real world. When you no longer have college professors project their beliefs on you, you start to think for your self. Ask these students when they have children if there should be armed guards on campus. I think you will get a different answer.
Also college campus are high in drug activity. Where there is drugs there is drug dealers. Where there is drug dealers there is violence. The recent gun violence in North Adams has been drug related.
Kudos to MCLA for making an informed decision when it comes to the safety of the Campus. I am a woman, I am also a gun owner, it is my 2nd Amendment right as a law abiding citizen. Unfortunately the once peaceful Berkshires has seen a dramatic rise in violence and crime, and MCLA is being proactive, why wait until something serious happens to act. And for the people that think that a weapon will be drawn to break up a drunken brawl, I'm not sure if this is pure stupidity or ignorance, lets be serious.
To the editor's question:
Can armed campus police officers top something bad from happening?
Yes, but not at MCLA, and that's the whole point. Police officers need lethal force at their disposal to do their job. But no matter what training and authorization the MCLA security personnel have, they are not now doing, and will never do the same job municipal cops are doing. This isn't UMass. On a small town college campus neighbored by Williamstown and Adams, beyond the occasional drunken kid, there's not much criminal action.
And that should be exactly what worries everybody. Here's one example: much is made of the fact that several of the MCLA guards are municipal cops elsewhere. Great. Mix up a tired, double-shifting cop/guard with a gun and a drunken college kid who jumps him. Now, out in the real world on Main Street, a cop-jumping kid is playing a dangerous game. But do you think the possible consequences should be the same for a nineteen year old kid who overindulges at a Blackinton Street party? Everybody better ask themselves that question, because the answer is now yes, at least at MCLA.
And to Nope, and the Columbine/Virginia Tech example.
Give me a break. Whether they're police officers or guards or community outreach workers, are you really trying to make the claim that a campus security force which has zero urban interaction and never even sees, never mind arrests, a violent felon, will maintain the training and readiness necessary to burst in and engage with a shooting madman? Really?
"Rumors about the state cutting the role of Presidents at Community Colleges could turn into rumors of State Colleges no longer having a President. Arming campus police could prevent the rumor from taking place."
Editor: I don't see where it says they attend the State Police Academy. Nevermind, I found it. It looks like SSPO, rather than university police (huh?), attend a training program AT the academy. They do not take the actual State Police program - otherwise they would be, you know, state police.
This is from the MCLA Website, how can anyone say they don't have the qualifications to carry a weapon to not only protect themselves but to protect the college community that they serve.
Are Sworn and Warranted Police Officers
Are Police Academy & Field Training Officer Trained
Are Certified First Responders - CPR/AED, First Aid, Medical Emergencies
Receive Yearly In-service Training
Have Areas of Specialty Training: Emergency Medical Technician, Field Training Officer, Defensive Tactics, Computer Internet Investigations, Criminal Investigations, Bike Patrol, CPR/AED Instructor, Child Safety Seat Restraint Instructor, Evidence/Property Control, Fire Safety Educator
MCLA campus and resident areas are patrolled by Campus Police Officers on foot, by bicycle, and in a cruiser 24 hours a day/year round. With 24 hour coverage, they are able to provide assistance at any time for the following emergencies:
The overwhelming majority of faculty are lefytwing anti-gun wing nuts--and the same goes for their indocrinated minions (the students)-- so no wonder the way the student and faculty votes went the way they did--that the College actually had to get to the point of considering this is all Goerge Bush's fault---if it were not for hanging chads and the SCOTUS----this would not be an issue---as Gore pormised to do with Social Security he would do with guns on campus-- put them in a "lock box"----unfortunately home (dorm) invasions have happened and the intruders guns are not in a "lock box"
guns... really??... I'd opt for tasers first...Lets hope the campus officers are mentally trained to respond with the amount of force appropriate for the types of crime they encounter. . and apply unbaised judgement.. i.e. not overreact and actually cause more issues than they prevent.
Faculty should teach, Administration should govern and Campus police will keep everyone safe.Do your jobs and stop being concerned with what everyone else is doing. Why is it so hard to give the POLICE the tools they need to do the job. And start using some respect for the title of Police Officer in the Office of Public Safety.. The are not rent a cops or guards they are Police Officers. Show some respect to the level of training these men and woman receive. It is very apparent the Faculty have no clue what the Campus Police do on a regular basis.
The faculty get a say because they ARE the backbone of an educational institution. Faculty hire administrators (who in turn hire public safety security guards) to handle things they don't typically deal with on a day-to-day basis.
This does not mean that an administrator can turn a deaf ear to the entire faculty and student community and make a shoot-from-the-hip decision. President Grant should be ashamed of herself for not properly representing her faculty and students, which are her entire reason for existing at the institution.
Cops with guns do little to deter crime. Security guards with guns is only asking for trouble, with zero benefit. ...and yes, while they train at the MA police academy, they are "special forces - not state police.
This entire decision is unnecessary and insane, and my alumni fund donations stop today. I fear for the safety and future of NASC/MCLA.
It is great to see the college become proactive instead of reactive. What people do not realize is that MCLA may be a "safe" campus but what will prevent some crazy looney tune from entering a building off the CITY streets and open fire, like all around the world. School shootings are on the rise, school violence is on the rise. I'm not saying MCLA is not safe, but people need to think outside the box! People please wake up! This is for your safety! When a Campus POLICE Officer shows up to assist with the looney tune, I would like them to be able to do something and have some authority to bring the issue under control.
Hey Bad Move, your comment was: First, even heavily armed, highly trained SWAT pros rarely engage the shooter in those sad, scary scenarios. Just as they did at Virginia Tech, they almost always do nothing more than secure the site after the damage is done.
My reply was to show that you were wrong, and I did. "heavily armed, highly trained SWAT pros" DO engage the shooter, and are trained to neutralize him as soon as possible, and in advance of any other directive. Trying to act as if you wrote something in another context just doesn't wash. You were, and are, wrong.
And as for the alum who will no longer donate to the college, good to know you've decided to make the very students you claim to support suffer from your lack of financial support. Money donated to the foundation does not go to support public safety - it goes to support academic programs. The college doesn't use foundation money to pay salaries for staff or equipment in public safety.
The real reason MCLA security wants guns is the same reason ALL SECURITY FORCES want guns, so they say I'm not just security I have A GUN and feel cool and have status, though they will never openly admit it.
If a situation happens where deadly force is needed do you really think MCLA security will handle it? Or will it be state and local police? If it were your kid who would you want, obviously state and local police.
Could the college even deal with the legal fallout of leathal force, I think not. I doubt security will deploying firearms into the field often, would make sense. Once a situation arose the police probably would move in and assume control.