GCC board votes to arm police officers
GREENFIELD — To better prepare for a potential gunman on campus, three full-time Greenfield Community College police officers will begin carrying handguns later this year.
Approved unanimously by the college’s board of trustees Wednesday morning, the decision comes after months of research and reflection — particularly by President Robert Pura, a longtime opponent of guns on campus.
“GCC is a safe campus,” Pura told the trustees. “That said, it is essential that we continue to do our work ... making sure that every possible (emergency) response is thought through.”
College officials, local police and state police all agreed that it would take too long for outside help to respond if a shooter arrives on campus, said Pura. His change of heart came from a desire to limit the critical minutes between when a shooter starts and when that person is stopped.
Bill Mayrose, the college’s chief of police, said that he and two other licensed police officers will undergo between 40 and 50 hours of training before they carry firearms. The process will include psychological testing, training in the use of deadly force, development of a policy for use of deadly force, a practice of defensive tactics and qualification on a shooting range.
He estimates costs of the guns and training at $12,000 and an additional $1,200 to $1,500 each year after that for ongoing training. Depending on availability of guns, the officers could be armed as soon as late spring or early summer.
The policy will only apply to full-time officers, who are GCC employees. Two reserve officers and contracted security guards from Hunter North Associates will not carry weapons.
Trustees asked GCC officers to coordinate soon with local and state police, so that other officers can visit and become familiar with the campus layout.
Since the proposal to arm officers became public last month, student trustee J.D. McCaughey said he hasn’t heard any resistance to the idea. Students either assumed that police officers already carried guns or understood the intent was to keep them safe.