Some members of the Boston School Department’s police force believe they might be unprepared to respond to a mass shooting like the one in Newtown, Conn., because they cannot carry guns and lack bulletproof vests and adequate training to defuse such a situation, reported the Boston Globe.
Since the late 1970s, the School Department has operated its own police force, which replaced state and city police who stopped patrolling the hallways as racial tensions — sparked by court-ordered busing a few years earlier — began to ease.
Boston school police, a unit of 55 officers and 20 supervisors, cover all middle and high schools around the city and operate on a $3.9 million annual budget, according to the Globe.
City officials have reassured parents that their children are safe in school. But Matthew Wilder, a School Department spokesman, said Superintendent Carol R. Johnson is planning to look into equipping school police with bulletproof vests and into whether it makes sense for the school police’s radio system to be connected directly with that of the Boston Police Department.
School police, who are trained to conduct emergency lock-downs of buildings, have long sought the authority to carry guns, but Johnson and Mayor Thomas M. Menino oppose the idea.
In a statement provided to the Globe, Johnson said: “While I think there is always more we can do to make our schools even more secure and safe, I don’t believe arming our school police officers is the answer, and neither do the parents I’ve spoken with. We must do all we can to secure our buildings while at the same time making our schools welcoming and nurturing environments.’’
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