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The Salem News Online Edition
Thursday, June 05, 2003

Salem State cops to get guns
By TOM DALTON

Staff writer

SALEM -- Concerned about the rising tide of violence in America, and convinced that college campuses are no longer a safe haven, the board of trustees of Salem State College voted last night to arm campus police.

By a 6-4 vote, the trustees supported the compromise recommended by Salem State President Nancy Harrington, who proposed putting guns in the hands of the nine-member command staff and then reviewing the decision next spring.

After the one-year trial, the board will consider whether to arm the entire 28-member force.

"It was a tough decision for me to make, but, at this point, I believe it is necessary," Harrington said of her recommendation, which clearly carried weight with the board.

How soon campus police begin carrying weapons is not clear. When asked last night, Salem State Police Chief Brian Pray said he first has to find the money to buy the guns.

The Salem State Police have not carried firearms since 1986, the year Pray arrived on campus. Pray took the weapons away, in part, because he felt officers weren't properly trained.

Over the past year, Pray and members of his command staff, which includes patrol supervisors and the head of detectives, have campaigned to get the weapons back. Officers now receive extensive training, Pray said.

The police held a dozen campus meetings, bringing with them a display board of guns, knives and other weapons confiscated on campus. They displayed the weapons last night during the trustees' meeting at Alumni House on South Campus.

"We hope this will help you understand why we are unable to properly serve and protect," Pray said at the start of the department's presentation.

Pray and his officers cited examples where, when confronted with a weapon or the threat of a weapon, they have had to retreat or call in city police. That policy, they said, can put both campus police and students in jeopardy.

"Basically, all we do at this point is pray a situation doesn't worsen," said Sgt. Dean Bruno.

During 2002, Salem State Police were involved in 30 incidents with weapons, which resulted in 13 arrests, they said.

Several board members had reservations about giving guns to police. Some felt they needed more time to study the issue, while others wanted to arm the whole department, or were concerned that not everyone on campus liked the idea.

Sarah Newcomb, the student trustee, said students weren't necessarily opposed, but that some were concerned about which officers would have guns.

The campus meetings on the issue "did bring to light a long-standing tension between the student body and some of the personnel on the police force," she said.

Trustee Matthew LeBretton, a Salem State graduate, cited another group that has its concerns. "There does seem to be a level of unease among some faculty," he said.

Harrington said she received between 100 and 150 e-mails and comments from students, faculty and staff as a result of the public information meetings. She said the campus was split "50-50."

Of those opposed, she said about half strongly objected, and the others had concerns about "who is armed." The other half of the campus was in favor of giving police guns, she said.

The majority of the board backed Harrington's proposal to start gradually by arming only the chief's command staff. They rejected calls for a delay.

"On my watch, I would rather err on the side of caution by opening the door partly rather than keeping it closed," said Trustee James Hobin Jr.

The college president, a longtime gun opponent, said she changed her mind because of all that has happened over the past few years.

"Just watching the increase in violence in society and events the last couple of years -- the World Trade Center and terrorism and the violence at schools and colleges across the nation -- I just realized times have changed," Harrington said.
 

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It's about time!!!!! Command staff on a trial basis is better than nobody at all, but why there is even debate on the issue still confuses the hell out of me... got badge, get gun!

-Mike
 

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Those little shits that are opposed to the officers having guns obviously have not given realistic consideration to what would happen if someone decided to bring a weapon to the campus and shoot some of THEM. Call Salem police and wait = Someone dead or injured. This debate never ends.
 

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Defa48 said:
Sarah Newcomb, the student trustee, said students weren't necessarily opposed, but that some were concerned about which officers would have guns.
If they have questions about who should be carrying and who shouldn't be there are other issues such as a loose cannon among the ranks. That should be dealt with separately and not cloud the issue.

If you have someone that you question there ability to preform the duties of his office than investigate it and move on.

The campus meetings on the issue "did bring to light a long-standing tension between the student body and some of the personnel on the police force," she said.
So what they are going to shoot those they don't like? That's a mute point!
 

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So the same chief who took guns away some seventeen (17) years ago, now decides to try to get them back? What does this say about the guy?

If he took over and had a training/qualification issue, then as a Chief, he should have taken care of it way back then. Seems he waited forever to rectify a problem. Sounds like a political situation to me. Does this sound funny to anyone else?
 

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From what I heard he is not the greatest Chief, doesnt want to rock the boat, because he couldn't get a job anywhere else if he did. I had the same question, If he took the guns away in 1986 because the officers were not trained, why did it take him 17 years to fix the problem. Sounds like somebody is lying. The credit goes to the men and women on that department that tried really hard even when their security director/chief/whatever didn't care.

THUMBS DOWN TO CHIEF PRAY
AND THUMBS UP TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF HIS DEPARTMENT THAT KEPT UP THE FIGHT AND TRUSTEES THAT VOTED IT IN.

 

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My understanding of the situation is that anybody above Sergeant, chief included, at SSC is not covered by the union contract and has little to no protection from being fired for wholly political reasons. The decision to go back to being armed needed to be approved by the board of directors and the president to pass. The department has had the approval of the board of directors for years, but the president, Nancy Harrington, is pretty much dead set against being armed, so it's gone unchanged. So without protection, and I assume the threat of "make too much noise and get canned", the plan to go armed has gone pretty much under the table. I'm not sure what political force put pressure on good ol' Nancy to approve this time around, but rumor has it that she may be retiring in the near future, so who knows? Just a CYA, I don't work for Salem State, so all this information is purely the inside track from a few old friends.
 

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Why such a issue is still a big debate, I'll never know. University and Campus Police officers are Police officers under MGL. They are trained just as good in most cases as the municipal departments. If you are a PO and can make a legal arrest, you need a firearm. To armed only the command staff is a foolish way to go about it. So the question is, what happens when a Patrolman is faced with the danger? Call the sgt?

This is why most Police officers are against any civillian boards that control Police officers and departments.
 

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Can't see this as a good moral booster only arming rank. I heard through the vine that it's killing a certian departments moral over there in Waltham. On the bright side at least it's a start in the right direction. Props to Salem State P.D. espc Ptl. Bruno or is it Sgt. Bruno now?? :?:
 

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I believe he is a Sergeant now. A friend of mine was a Sergeant there, and left to go to Swampscott. I think Bruno took his spot.
 

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Not good for officer morale :cry: . Sends message that command staff are better than the officers, can be trusted and are valued more than patrol staff :shock: . We (in Waltham) are still being told wait, wait, wait. A year ago, it was Sept 2003, now it's Jan 2004. Some officers don't think the patrolmen/women will ever be carrying full-time.

Now you have to strap on your holster and mags for a 4 hour detail and then put the toy belt back on when you go on patrol :?: .

And it's kind of a shot in the back (no pun intended) when a student points at another cop (who happens to have stripes) and asks you "Where is your gun???"
:oops:

By the way, I love these little smiley faces. :-({|=
 

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This is ridiculous, whoever thought up the idea of only arming the command staff at these colleges must have had problem patrol officers that they knew would sink the deal once their names were brought up during debates. So, instead of disciplining them or getting rid of them for failing to perform/gross incompetance etc., they retain them at the other officers' expense. Now, the colleges think they have to do it in the gradual way because they are "afraid" that someone will allege that a slower transition would have prevented an accidental shooting etc.

This is another example of the problems with college pds and their chiefs allowing guys that will never be "ready to perform as real cops" to hide in the shadows of "easy assignments/slow shifts", as well as making the other competant officers carry them, for fear that rocking the boat and disciplining them will result in rocking their own boat.

The good patrol officers get treated like second class citizens and the rank gets to carry a gun (in some cases where they don't even patrol) so that the college can say that they have "specially armed trained police supervisors" to respond to elevated incidents...and cover their ass for lawsuits etc. when some kid gets shot, when the patrolman on the street is left empty handed. Not to mention the fact that any criminals or shitheads who happen to get cornered some night by blue lights and flashlights may assume the officers who are trying to arrest him are armed (as he has just seen the rank walking around carrying, or he has just seen armed patrolmen working the dance he just left), causing him to react differently/more violently.

This is wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not to mention the other general argument that if you a sworn police officer w/power of arrest and are driving a cruiser with blue lights and a wearing a uniform that says police, YOU NEED A GUN TO DO YOUR JOB PROPERLY. These college administrators are out of their mind, they are so selfish and stupid that it absolutely amazes me that so called educated people can literally look at such an obvious situation like a group of mentally ill children look at a great philosophical debate, when it's common sense and a necessity.
 

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DC813,

Awesome posting. Especially the perspective on the administrators and the weak chief leadership points. The reference to Children and the philisophical analysis is an excellent conclusion.
=D>

probably could substitute pre-school for M.I. though. Just a thought :wink:
 

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Just like the old saying "you are only as good as your weakest link" is a major problem with all campus police getting armed. As DC813 stated college admin staff see the way the poor officers of the department work and they paint the whole department with the same brush. The college admin staff see the poor officers actions, read reports that look like a pre-school kid wrote, and think it would be crazy to give this guy/girl a gun. These guys/girls drag the department down with them and will never leave their job because they can't get hired any where else. I would not feel comfortable with giving guns to some of the dumpy guys/gals I have seen walking around different colleges and talk about some of the crazy questions they ask at SSPO in-service :shock: it gives all college police officers a bad name.

#907
 

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fscpd907,

Awesome post! Especially the "weakest link" perspective. It identifies that this factor is so prominent in many campus PD's. Couple this with the fact that these agencies are usually more interactive with those they serve and in a smaller area. This means that the unprofessional "minority" are more visable than their municipal/city counterparts. In any event, the professional "majority" are weighed down by the few "pretenders".
=D>

pysch tests, piss tests, PAT tests, safety tests,Range Quals, frequent re-quals would mean a lot. You pass all, you can carry. You can't=you don't!
:-k

Of course there's still politics, unions, etc.................
](*,)
 
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Arming Command Staff only is still admitting the need that weapons are must be carried by officers within the University or Campus Communities. Your defense now as "patrol" is this, The need is accepted, thusly the whole department should be armed not just a segmented part of it. The majority of Command Staff are on days and, at least where I work, the jobs highlights occure at\or during the afternoons towards the late nights (2pm to 4am).
A scary thought to say hey we need guns but only a select few can be trusted so we shall wait to arm them. Thats not cool and looking at the whole picture both Police and Community will suffer. A Law Suite is waiting to happen if thats going to be the case in arming a select few. oops gota go... later
 
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