Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING SPECIAL POLICE FORCES ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Connecticut State Colleges & Universities
REASONS FOR BILL:
To allow security personnel operating on Connecticut community college campuses property to carry fire-arms in order to better serve students and faculty by providing a safer institutional environment. Currently, there are established special police forces at each of the Connecticut State Universities as well as Naugatuck Valley Community College which is due to an exemption from 1990. This legislation would provide the same level of protection students possess at the state universities at Connecticut's community colleges with an improved sense of security and a reduced response time in case of emergency.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Mark E. Ojakian, President, Connecticut State Colleges & Universities
President Ojakian testified in favor of the bill, asserting that it would create the opportunity to allow Connecticut community colleges the option to equip campus security with fire-arms which would result in a safer campus environment for faculty and students, and would bring Connecticut community colleges more in line with the security offered at Connecticut state universities. He stated that this legislation is in response to conversations with students, faculty and staff at our state universities and community colleges. This legislation allows the opportunity for colleges to implement this policy, but does not mandate them to.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Senator Stephen T. Cassano, Fourth District
Senator Cassano feels very strongly that armed security forces on college campus will improve overall safety and ensure staff and students feel safer. Senator Cassano referenced his many years of work at Manchester Community College and how students did not feel safe to go to their cars in some instances, and had to be escorted. Senator Cassano looked favorably towards the idea of adding mental health programs. He stated that community college is for a new start and the students and faculty want to feel safe. This represents a change in policy because the country has changed, and so while armed police officers on campus will be new and potentially challenging to adopt, it will result in increased protection on community college campuses in Connecticut.
Lt. Michael J. Davis, Chief of Police, Manchester Community College
Lt. Davis testified in support of the bill, stating that passing this legislation would not only improve safety and place Manchester Community college on more even ground to its state university counterparts, but that this would result in a cost savings for Manchester Community College. The cost of the contracted armored car service exceeds the cost to arm the 6 police officers serving on campus, and would result in a net savings to Manchester Community College. Lt. Davis shares that the responsibilities of police officers of Connecticut State Universities are the same as those on community colleges, and the officers of community colleges are expected to fulfill these responsibilities without a fire-arm.
Joseph Mazzarella, Senior Vice President, Mutualink, Inc.
Mr. Mazzarella testified in support of the bill, with some reservations on the limited scope of this legislation. He cautioned against using this bill without additional legislation to create an “overall enhanced safety and security solution”. However, Mr. Mazzarella believes that there would be a 40-50% reduction in “Time to Resolution” and would translate in anywhere from a 5 to 15 minute savings between first responders and on campus security. In addition to properly equipping trained security personnel, he also recommended proper training as well as enhanced security systems in order to best improve campus safety.
Glenn Terlecki, President of Connecticut Police and Fire Union
Mr. Terlecki testified in support of the bill, as he believes the adoption of this legislation would address security risks at the community colleges and further deter, prevent, or more rapidly respond to potential vulnerabilities or incidents. The option of colleges to allow for police officers to carry fire-arms “is a step in the right direction to improving campus security”.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Reported by: Kyle Donovan, Assistant Clerk
Date: March 7, 2016