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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Suffolk Board of Trustees votes to arm SUPD

Lieutenant+Ramon+Nunez%2C+left%2C+and+SUPD+Chief+James+Connolly%2C+right%2C+during+the+March+26+open+forum.
Leo Woods
Lieutenant Ramon Nunez, left, and SUPD Chief James Connolly, right, during the March 26 open forum.

Suffolk University President Marisa Kelly announced April 24 that the Board of Trustees voted to approve a resolution authorizing the arming of the Suffolk University Police Department and the development of an implementation plan.

The Board voted to do so April 19.

The board’s decision came after a great deal of input from the University campus community and a thorough assessment of campus safety measures,” said Kelly in an email to the Suffolk community.

The earliest that SUPD would be armed would be 2025, according to the university. Kelly noted that in a recent survey sent to community members, a majority of students and Suffolk employees opposed the arming. According to the survey, 52.3% of employees and 62.3% said they did not believe that SUPD should carry firearms.

“There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue. The board understands that it has a fundamental responsibility to do all that it can to ensure the physical safety of our community, and that responsibility sits at the center of this decision,” said Kelly. “The trustees equally understand and support that we have a critical responsibility to protect the emotional well-being of our community members as well. The ultimate decision to arm sworn SUPD officers was made with a thorough understanding of the concerns on both sides of this very important debate.”

Kelly said the development of a “comprehensive and thoughtful” implementation plan would begin over the next few months, during which the university will gather student and faculty input. An approach with an emphasis on de-escalation is a priority for the university, Kelly said. This could include adding mental health counselors to Suffolk’s police department and potentially pairing mental health professionals with SUPD officers.

Suffolk’s Student Government Association passed a resolution April 11 opposing the arming of SUPD. For some students, guns and safety do not equate, even on a city campus. 

I don’t know, I think it’s a lot. If [the officers] are in our school they should know how to protect us without using guns,” said Alexandra Gregory, a senior at Suffolk.

Kelly added that in response to student safety concerns in residence halls, Suffolk would be altering its approach to campus safety in student living spaces.

“We do not want armed officers on our residential floors except in certain very specific and dangerous situations,” said Kelly. “For students who live in University-sponsored housing, those residence halls are your homes, and we must be mindful of how the mere presence of a gun in one’s home, even a gun that is appropriately holstered and secure, would be stressful for many.”

Students across campus are grappling with the recent decision, with some saying the vote to arm wasn’t a shock at all.

I can’t say that I’m surprised in all honesty, I don’t think there is a great solution, but I don’t think arming SUPD officers is a good idea,” said senior Emma Gosselin.

For others, the arming feels unnecessary.

“I’ve never felt unsafe enough to where I’ve thought, ‘I wish our police officers [would] have guns,’” said Gregory.

Kelly said final details on the arming process will be revealed through the development of an implementation plan, in which the university will be evaluating its current safety policies, which officers will be armed, the training required and the implementation of equipment such as body cameras.

“While I understand not everyone will agree with this decision, we heard your concerns over the course of the last few months, and we learned of issues that must be addressed,” said Kelly.

 

News Editor Sarah Roberts contributed to this reporting.

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About the Contributors
Shealagh Sullivan
Shealagh Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief | she/her
Shealagh is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in international relations from Ashby, Massachusetts. She has previously worked as a co-op for the Boston Globe on the homepage desk and as an intern for GBH News and Boston Public Radio. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, finding a new favorite coffee spot and exploring Boston. She is a huge art lover and wants nothing more than to see the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. After graduation, Shealagh hopes to be a political journalist in Washington D.C. Follow Shealagh on X @ShealaghS.
Leo Woods
Leo Woods, News Editor | he/him

Leo is a senior political science major with a minor in journalism from Clinton, Connecticut. He has photographed political events, protests, performing arts groups and documented Boston Pride for the People for the History Project. Outside of Suffolk, Leo is an avid Dungeons and Dragons player and podcast listener. After graduation, he plans on attending law school and working in politics.

Follow Leo on X @leowoods108

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  • P

    Pat LApr 24, 2024 at 7:56 pm

    I find the ambiguity in “We do not want armed officers on our residential floors except in certain very specific and dangerous situations,” very concerning.

    Reply
  • L

    Logan CaseyApr 24, 2024 at 4:55 pm

    “It is critically important to me and to the entire Board of Trustees that we are doing all we can to ensure that a focus on mental health and de-escalation sits at the center of our approach to policing.”

    How does adding guns to campus deescalate policing? In what world does adding a gun to a mental health crisis deescalate the situation? What a crass, poorly conceived action. History will not look fondly on those who thought the solution to our Nation’s gun violence epidemic was more guns.

    Reply
    • K

      Kerry NajarianApr 24, 2024 at 5:43 pm

      Logan Casey I completely agree

      Reply