Police who patrol Maricopa County Community College District campuses won’t be armed until at least next year despite a new state law requiring them to carry guns that takes effect next week.
Chancellor Rufus Glasper said the district will obey the law, but needs time to write its first policy on guns that doesn’t simply ban them. A district spokesman contends government agencies are allowed a grace period when new laws take effect.
However, the law’s chief sponsor said the district is required to arm its officers and that without them its campuses are unsafe.
“I don’t need another witness. What I need is a person who can take action,” said state Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa.
People have brought guns onto the Mesa Community College campus twice this year and threatened to fire them, most recently on Wednesday.
Maricopa County colleges are the state’s only major higher education institutions that don’t allow their officers to carry guns. The college board has repeatedly voted against weapons even as it grew into the nation’s largest community college system.
Officers at the colleges said they must choose between their boss’ directions and state law.
“If one of my officers comes here and he’s armed, I’m going to ask for his certification,” said Lynn Bray, security director at Mesa Community College’s security “If he’s certified, I will not tell them they cannot carry a firearm.”
The existing policy will apply until the college governing board changes it, said Tom Gariepy, a district spokesman. The new policy will detail when officers can use their weapons, what to do if an officer loses it or accidentally discharges it.
“We believe it would be irresponsible to operate with armed officers and no procedures,” he said.
Information from: East Valley Tribune/Scottsdale Tribune, http://www.eastvalleytribune.com
– Associated Press
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