Greenfield Community College president wants to arm officers - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Greenfield Community College president wants to arm officers

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The president of Greenfield Community College said he has changed his position on arming the school's three police officers.

College officials are concerned it would take too long for local or state police to respond to a shooter. President Robert Pura said he spoke at length with state and local police departments and also studied the idea at length. Pura said the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, in 2012 was his motivation to begin studying the idea.

Pura pointed to the school shooting at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, CO, in December as another reason for armed officers. Authorities in Colorado said the shooting there was over in 80 seconds because an armed sheriff assigned to the school confronted the shooter.

Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police William Mayrose said he has been pushing for armed officers for some time. He said they are not allowed to respond to a weapon on campus and have to shelter in place until state or local police arrive.

The proposal must be approved by the college's board of trustees and will likely come up for a vote Feb. 12. If the board approves the measure, it is expected the officers could be armed by late spring or early summer. The three full-time officers would have to undergo evaluations and training. Mayrose said they were planning to complete at least 40 hours of training, double what is required by the state.

Pura said there was no joy or exuberance in the decision. He said having to deal with the situation at all speaks to a larger issue about guns and safety in American society.

Pura said many students were surprised when they were approached with the idea because they believed the officers were already armed. The student senate president supports the decision, saying it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

Mayrose said it would cost around $12,000 initially for evaluations, training and equipment. He estimated it would cost around $1,500 a year to keep the officers certified and proficient. Pura said the money would come from the general fund.

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