Mass. College Police Equipped with Semi-Automatic Rifles Despite Opposition

The move comes as schools and universities across the country are increasingly concerned about mass shootings.

Northeastern University in Boston has made the decision to begin formally equipping its campus police force with semiautomatic rifles to respond to high level threats.

The decision, which is opposed by the Boston Police Department, comes as concern spreads across the country about mass shootings and terrorist threats.

The Northeastern Police Department has had semiautomatic rifles for upwards of five years but decided to adopt a formal policy on their use to be unveiled later this month, according to the Boston Globe.

Other university police forces in the city, including Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts Boston, also use semiautomatic rifles.

A spokesman for the Boston Police Department, which was not consulted by Northeastern when the decision was being made, said he disagreed with the university’s decision. “We’re concerned when we see . . . campus police departments that are within the neighborhoods of the city make decisions without including Boston police in the process. Decisions like this should involve full community involvement and transparency,” said Lieutenant Michael McCarthy.

Northeastern is located in the city of Boston roughly half a mile from Boston police headquarters.

The university police department sees the rifles being used in the event of an active shooter incident but gave little other details about their possible use.

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Nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology has had a policy in place since 2012 that allows the campus police force to have secure semiautomatic weapons in all of its vehicles. An MIT police officer was fatally shot by the people responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Twenty members of the campus police force are currently training to use the weapons and will undergo 16 hours of training each month with the state police once the policy is implemented.

The university would not specify the make and model of the rifles they will be using but most law enforcement agencies with rifles use the AR-15. Davis said the weapons are “tactical” or “patrol” rifles and cannot be used in fully automatic mode.

The Northeastern University Police Department, which is accredited, provides 24 hour service with Patrol and Investigative divisions. Along with police officers, the department also employs community service officers, cadets and a cadre of security officers, according to the department website.

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About the Author


Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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