Twenty-one people were in attendance at an open forum concerning a proposal for the carrying and use of firearms by Yuba College peace officers Thursday, May 5, at noon at the Marysville Campus.
Among those in attendance, Chief of Police Chris Wilkinson, faculty, staff and students voiced their opinions on the controversial issue. While the majority of those in attendance were in favor of the proposal, many were still opposed to the idea of peace officers carrying these weapons.
The proposal written by Wilkinson was introduced earlier this year and states, “Yuba College Peace officers are not currently authorized to carry firearms while on duty. Currently, Yuba Community College District peace officers are qualified, hired and trained by the same regulations and standards of any municipal, county or state peace officer.”
“It is my intent to present facts, not opinions, concerning our Yuba Community College District peace officers and authorizing the peace officers to carry firearms,” continued Wilkinson in the proposal.
Yuba college student Wayne Boggess, a victim of the deadly 1992 Lindhurst High School shootings, was skeptical about the issue at hand. “Yeah, they [peace officers] should have the tool of their trade but only if they’re qualified to do so,” he said.
“I’d like to point out that these are sworn officers and they have been through the training,” said Lex Egbert, Cadet of the Yuba College Police Academy, in response to Boggess’ statement.
According to the proposal, “District peace officers carrying firearms would act as a deterrent…Qualified district peace officers shall receive periodic training in the legal, moral and operational aspects of firearms.”
John Almy, English Professor at Yuba College, is in favor of the peace officers carrying guns on the Yuba College campus.
Almy once taught a student that was later convicted of murder and said he realizes that dangerous situations could arise on college campuses. “He [Ralph Leon] was in my classroom,” Almy said. “He stabbed a woman 80 times! I spoke with him the day before to see if he was going to straighten his life out.”
Student Louie Araujo is opposed to the proposal. “We live in a Mayberry,” he said. “Carrying guns on a college campus is not conducive to a learning environment.”
While Araujo feels Yuba College doesn’t have a large potential risk factor, student Sheryl West, although unable to attend the forum, wrote a letter favoring the proposal.
Cindy Snelgrove, college nurse read West’s letter. “In an area that doesn’t have the best reputation; it is foolish not to give these capable officers the right to protect both the students and themselves,” West wrote.
“This [Yuba College] is not a separate walled off place. This is part of the community,” Almy said. “People must live in a bubble if they believe that it isn’t.”
West also wrote the following: “To ask any peace officer to enforce our laws without sufficient protection is absurd. The qualified officers on this campus went through the exact same training, as did the officers who patrol our streets everyday. My hope is that if the officers are allowed to carry firearms that it will prevent an awful event from happening. It is better to have something and not have to use it than being in a situation wishing you had it.”
“Today is the anniversary of the Kent State shootings, I was there,” said Woodland campus Art Professor Terry Turner. Turners experience with the incident as well as a time when he was shot at while on a camping trip is part of the reason he is opposed to having guns on campus.
The infamous Kent State University shootings in Kent, Ohio, took place on May 4, 1970.The National Guard killed four students and injured nine others during an anti-war rally.
Turner, like Araujo is opposed to the proposal because he does not feel that guns have a place on a college campus.
Students, as well as others interested in voicing their opinions, should be alert to upcoming presentations and board meetings, which will address this controversial topic.