HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Here in Connecticut, recent shootings around the country prompted a vote Thursday to arm the security forces at the state’s 12 community college campuses.
All the big universities, like Yale and UConn have their own professional police force, but big community colleges like Gateway in New Haven and Capitol in Hartford do not.
There are more than 50,000 students enrolled this year at the 12 campus Connecticut Community College system. 6,000 at Capital Community College in the old ‘G. Fox’ building in Hartford.
Like all the other campuses, there is a security force at Capital and many members of that security force are certified former municipal police officers. But by policy and law, they are forbidden to carry firearms.
“We want all of our Community Colleges to ultimately establish ‘Special Police Forces,” said Merle Harris, a member of the Board of Regents for Higher Education as she introduced a resolution today.
The Board voted unanimously to approve the resolution to lift the ban on weapons and clear the way for Special Police Forces at all 12 campuses.
“We’re in a different place and time right now and what happened yesterday, the kinds of things that are continuing to occur, really make it necessary for us to look at ways to how we can deter and to make sure if something happens we can respond rapidly,” said Wilfredo Nieves of Capital Community College.
“I think it’s just part of the puzzle of all the things that you do in a college campus to maintain a safe environment,” said Gena Glickman, the President of Manchester Community College.
The effort to bring this about has been going on for more than a year. The legislature will have to approve creating the Special Police forces which have been long established at the state universities. The President at Manchester Community College thinks the forces could be established by spring.
Students we spoke with today are all for it like Areli Correa of East Hartford, “I think it’s a good idea because we have everything that’s going on with the college shootings so if they bring guns and they have guns then it’s a better, I guess, resolution.”
“Conditions are changing so we think we need people to protect us,” added Johnson Boateng of Windsor Locks.
There is also the added benefit that this move is unlikely to add much expense to Community College budgets, since many of their security force members are already certified to carry weapons.