When answering the door, the last thing any student wants to see through a peep-hole is that oh-so-familiar white shirt, black pants and Fairfield University security badge looking back. Especially when they’re packing heat.

Security officers at Fairfield have carried guns loaded with real bullets since the 1970s, according to security officials.

Frank Ficko, assistant director of security, said that a security officer’s firearm can only be used “in defense of an officer’s own life or that of another person.”

Ficko added that since 1984, when he arrived at the university, there has not been an occasion where an officer had to discharge a weapon.

“Firearms are a tool used by the department to assist in our basic responsibility which is to protect the public,” said Ficko. “Officers must attain local, state and security officer firearms permits and … meet Connecticut guidelines for police firearms instruction.”

The use of firearms by campus police has been hotly debated by other college campuses.

An incident in November 2003 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana prompted outcry when a univerisity security guard, while responding to an emergency call, shot and killed a student, according to the Ball State University Daily News. The officer was not sufficiently trained in the use of non-lethal force.

Some students were surprised to discover that security officers have guns, given Fairfield’s location in a suburban area.

“The next time I see one, I’ll have to check that out,” Charles Thorton ’07 said.

Students had mixed reactions when asked whether armed security officers are the best thing for Fairfield’s suburban campus.

“I don’t mind. I mean, it is an open campus with no one at the gates until 11 o’clock at night,” said Mike Martinez ’07.

“If I was a security officer, I’d want a gun. There are some sketchy places on this campus, especially late at night,” said Thorton. “You ever wonder how many doors there are on this campus? You never know what’s on the other side of a door.”

Other students disagree and are against security officers carrying guns.

“I don’t understand why they have guns,” said Shawn Collins ’07. “What, are they going to shoot a student? What could you possibly do to justify them having guns?”

In response to students’ common question of whether security officers are real police officers.

“University security officers are not police officers and do not have the powers of arrest. However, we will detain individuals when warranted and notify Fairfield Police who then officiate the arrest,” said Ficko.

Some students have proposed replacing the live ammunition in the officers’ firearms with rubber bullets, and utilizing other non-lethal crowd control methods on campus if a situation warranting such measures, like a riot, should ever place.

“It would be more reassuring if they carried rubber bullets rather than real ones, just because I’d know they wouldn’t pick me off with a real bullet if things got bad,” said Gregg Ceresuolo ’07.

“The weapon is to protect the life of an officer or that of a third party. If they were to carry rubber bullets, they might as well have mace or a taser,” said Ficko.

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