It has been a long wait for Springfield College Police Chief Judy Jackson and her officers. On May 1, 2014 the Public Safety officers that patrol Springfield College will be armed, according to the office of the president. The process, which started back in 2009, has finally reached a set date.
“We have been training since 2011,” said Jackson. “We have been gearing up for this moment; we did not wait until someone said ‘ok it is a done deal here is the date.’ We have been training constantly.”
The officers, led by senior training officer David Cupillo, have been put through a rigorous amount of training that by spring break will total to be 96 hours per officer, 76 hours over the required limit. Each officer attended a 40 hour tactical pistol school at the Smith and Wesson factory. The officers learned about the dynamics and mechanics of their weapon as well as taking timed draw tests and shooting at various targets under stress to replicate a realistic situation.
Every officer scored an 86 percent (43 out of 50 shots hit) or above on his or her handgun test and can all un-holster and fire two rounds off in 1.7 seconds or under, according to Cupillo. Although the officers are qualified and ready, it goes without saying that the use of the guns is a last resort that they hope to never use.
“I only had to pull my firearm out twice while I was at UMass and I prayed to god I didn’t have to shoot that person,” stated Jackson. “You pray you never have to use your weapon.”
The weapons, which are Smith and Wesson M&P 40 caliber handguns, have all been specially outfitted for additional safety that will help to ensure a greater peace of mind for any of those who were concerned with “misfires” or handguns being stolen.
While some concerns have been brought up over the last five years, regarding the safety of the guns, Cupillo believes that this change will only help to better their ability to do their job.
“It gives us a better feeling knowing that we are given a tool to better protect the student body, staff and faculty,” said Cupillo.
“It doesn’t change how you do the job, it’s like a surgeon. You don’t tell a surgeon ‘oh you’re trained, but you can’t have a scalpel because you may cut someone,” added Jackson.
Most of the training the officers underwent was of their own doing. Logging in extra hours at the range and even taking additional courses to further their knowledge, all of the officers have taken this new arming very seriously.
“I am extremely happy that they (the officers) have had almost five times the training then what the states require,” stated John Mailhot, vice president of Administration and Finance, who has been a part of this process from the beginning. “I am very confident that they are ready, it is one more tool in the tool belt that I hope doesn’t have to be used.”
With the new arming, arguably, being long overdue, the trusted officers of Springfield College can now walk the streets feeling a little safer than they did before. While an officer hopes they never have to use their weapon, they are the men and woman entrusted with the safety of the Springfield College community, a job that they take very seriously.