University of Hartford Arms Public Safety Officers

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The University of Hartford has added armed officers to its Department of Public Safety.

Several of those officers were provided their weapons at a ceremony Monday, and will begin carrying them immediately.

The move comes a week before most students arrive on campus, but was announced in May.

The university is uniquely situated among three towns: Hartford, West Hartford and Bloomfield.

Police Departments are called based on where campus incidents occur, and there's an inherent delay in their arrival from the time they are requested. But now the Public Safety officers on campus will have weapons of their own to handle an active situation while waiting for backup, no matter where it may come from.

"I think it was about time the university was able to provide an immediate response should an armed person be on campus," said Public Safety Chief John Schmarltz.

Several Public Safety Department sergeants and corporals received weapons, many of who were promoted at a special ceremony.

Chief Schmaltz said the campus simply expects stronger protection after so many gun-related incidents elsewhere.

"It was based on the community's needs and expectations. That's what it was--meeting expectations to be a safe campus, as safe as possible."

Long-time officer Tim Humiston is now armed after his promotion to sergeant.

"It's everyday you put on the news and there's some kind of violence, something happening on school campuses, and working here on the campus you can't help but think, 'how are you going to react to that?' I have a son that goes here and I'll have a daughter that goes here next year, so I think about them too and the better equipped we are to protect the students and the faculty and the staff, it's just going to make for a safer environment here," said Sgt. Humiston.

While the idea is to provide a more immediate response and an overall safer campus, some skeptics say they don't want guns on campus whatsoever, no matter who has them.

"In all honestly I don't really see any positive in having any sort of firearm on campus at all...Just because they work under public safety doesn't necessarily mean they can be a trusted person with an actual arm or weapon," said University of Hartford junior Mike Lee.

Lee may be one of the skeptics, but other students like Elise Galipo feel differently.

"If something were to happen, where someone came in and they needed to use the gun for force, I think it definitely should make students feel safer," said Galipo.

Not every officer will be armed--only those who are of certain rank and have passed background checks, psychological evaluations, interviews and received 80 hours of firearm training.

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