Police Officers May be Removed from Amherst College

A consultant firm has been hired by Amherst to determine the necessity of armed police officers on campus.

Police Officers May be Removed from Amherst College

Amherst, Massachusetts — Police officers are a commonplace on most college campuses, but their presence continues to be a topic of huge debate among administrators, students, parents, and community members. According to Justice Department data, 68% of colleges and universities employ law enforcement officers.

The latest college to evaluate the pros and cons of having armed police on campus is Amherst College. According to a May 25 report by The National Observer Higher Education, Amherst has gone so far as to hire a consulting firm to determine the best security strategy. Amherst stepped up its review of keeping or removing the police force from its campus after hundreds of students on April 13 walked out of classes demanding that the police force be abolished, citing recent incidents of police brutality, including the murder of George Floyd.

While most agree that Amherst should investigate the benefits of removing its own police force, some question the necessity of a consulting firm to do so.

“The idea of reconsidering armed campus police is right on trend and critically important considering the national discussions to rethink or even abolish the current policing system,” said Davarian Baldwin, professor of American Studies at Trinity College. “Why are there armed campus police in the sleepy college town of Amherst? I hope this effort will take all constituents into equal account.”

Most of the work provided by the consulting firm will take place this summer, ostensibly making a decision and implementing changes by the return of school in the fall.

“We are trying to define what campus safety should look like,” said Amherst president Carolyn Martin. “We’re one of only two [New England Small College Athletic Conference] colleges that has armed police on our campus. We are currently undergoing some serious study to see what makes sense for the community as a whole and how to keep people safe while also defining safety more broadly than it often gets defined.”

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2 responses to “Police Officers May be Removed from Amherst College”

  1. Sgt. J. Weiss, Ret. says:

    As a person who worked in law enforcement for 13 years, and whose daughter graduated from Mt. Holyoke, I don’t understand the rational for removing armed officers from your campus. A review of your department’s history and records to review the performance of individual officers and the department should already be standard procedure. If the department is performing well then there is no need for change and the opposite is also true. But issues such as the armed presence being a deterrent, or response time for officers for any emergencies need to be examined. Most mass shootings end as soon as the shooter encounters an armed resistance, something neither staff or unarmed patrols can provide. The real and possibly the only question that needs to be asked is what will be the outcome for the school, the administration, students and parents, should defenders be removed and a mass shooting take place? When my daughter looked at Mt. Holyoke almost 10 years ago one of our questions, as parents, was the nature of the school security that was provided. Frankly I don’t remember if there was armed security back then, but it was prior to the incidents of the past 10 years.

  2. Greg Ramsey says:

    Yet another article about a school campus disarming or completely eliminating campus police officers. Who are the people making these recommendations, or better yet, why ? Do we as a society think that disarming or eliminating law enforcement officers in this country will really make things better or safer. Are we to let the thoughts and wishes of a few dictate the fate of law and order. If I had a child attending a college / university of any size, that did not have a law enforcement presence capable of dealing with the most serious of incidents, I believe I would probably be forever sick with worry. And, I believe the vast majority of parents would as well. I associate this recent mind boggling trend to a movie I saw some years ago called Demolition Man, starring Sylvester Stallone. Those who have seen it know where I’m going with this, those that who have not need to see it.

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