Sunday, October 30, 2016

Washington State Community College officers to carry firearms

Marietta OH Oct 30 2016
Students at Washington State Community College say they find a new plan to arm security guards on campus unnecessary, while employees say they will appreciate the extra measure.
“It’s a waste of money, honestly,” said Jesse Taylor, 19, a diesel mechanics student. “How often would someone come here wanting to blow this place up? Never.”
The college’s board of trustees approved a plan Oct. 17 that will have the guards carrying guns beginning next year.
Washington State Community College currently spends $33,000 on security for each fiscal year. The new plan arming security will raise that expenditure to $61,000 for firearms and training necessary for the security officers.
“For this kind of campus, I don’t really find it necessary,” said Kendra Knight, 18, a nursing student. “I’ve never felt unsafe here so I don’t really see the need for it.”
Although students may not think it needs to happen, WSCC President Bradley Ebersole said he is eager to enhance security on campus.
“Safety of our students, faculty and staff are of paramount importance to us,” he said. “We strive to do everything we can to create a safe and supportive learning environment in which all students can be successful.”
Details about the plan are still being ironed out. Some staff members said they that while a violent incident on campus may be unlikely, it can happen anywhere.
“We’ve been fortunate to not have any major issues since I’ve been here for 20 years,” said Dr. Rob Kinker, director for respiratory therapy. “But honestly, you never know.”
In 2012, Marietta College began providing their campus police with firearms. Although they’ve never had a situation with an active shooter on campus, Marietta College Police Chief Jim Weaver thinks it’s a great idea in this day and age to allow all campus security to be armed.
“As long as the training is accurate, I think it’s a great idea for them to have someone who can take care of an active shooter threat, if the situation arises,” he said.
Weaver said Marietta College has benefited from upgrading the weaponry that security carries.
“This ensures that when we need firearms, we will have them,” he said. “Bad things can happen anywhere.”
There were 23 shootings on college campuses in the United States alone last year, according to Time Magazine, including a mass shooting at a community college in Oregon that left 10 people dead.
“I already felt safe here so I guess I will feel safer,” said Morgan Riggs, 16, a high school student from Marietta High School taking classes through the college credit plus program at WSCC. “This won’t really change how I do school work.”
Washington State has benefited from a working relationship with local law enforcement in the past but this gives a chance for the first responders to incidents on campus to have the proper equipment they may need, said Ebersole.
“In advance of this approval, the college conducted extensive research regarding options for security,” he said.
Faculty strongly support the new update, he said.
“It is absolutely necessary because you hear of school shootings happening every day,” said Angie Brammer, administrative assistant for health sciences. “Knowing it could happen makes me nervous but now this makes me feel a lot safer.”
Others were in agreement.
“I’m more focused on students then anything,” said Jeff Starkey, an instructor for auto mechanics. “If this helps the students feel safer and succeed, then I’m all for it.”
¯The new security proposal was approved by the board of trustees Oct. 17.
¯Security on campus will be carrying firearms beginning in 2017.

¯It will cost the school an additional $28,000 a year.
The Marietta Times 

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