By Dylan Morris; The Whetstone
Chaplain Bonnie Mullen said she sometimes feels vulnerable and afraid for Wesley students.
“Just the other day a man walked right off the street and ran into the restroom in the CC,” she said.
Mullen had worked in an institution in Arizona where armed police were essential.
Now, Wesley College will soon have six armed constables among its security staff after the College decided last semester would join every other college in the state that allow armed constables on campus.
The decision was – and remains – controversial.
“It would be nice if something happened and the guards could do something instead of having to call Dover PD,” freshman Devyn Allen said. “So long as they are responsible around the students, it should be good.”
Others, like junior Connor Davis, said they were less comfortable with the change.
“I understand why they are doing it, what with everything going on in the world today,” he said. “I just feel it may be going a little to far. I think Tasers should be used primarily over firearms.”
A constable is a peace officer employed by the State of Delaware though the Justice of the Peace Court granted the same powers as law enforcement officers, including the right to carry firearms.
Constables are required to execute all lawful orders directed to them by any judge or court in the state. This includes everything from issuing subpoenas and eviction notices to making arrests with or without a warrant.
“I wasn’t for it at first,” Registrar Assistant Shelby Everline said. “But after I learned more about what a constable is and what they do, I feel they do need to be armed for their own safety.”
Director of Communications and Marketing Jessica Cook said she was anxious at first when she heard about armed guards. “But once I realized Wesley was one of the last colleges in the state to embrace constables. I felt better knowing we were doing all we could to protect our students and our community.”
For the constables to be armed, they need to be licensed by the state police, trained by a licensed state police certified firearms instructor, and approved by the Board of Examiners. The initial weapons training certification is 40 hours.
Constables serve for a term of two years and must be reviewed by the Board of Examiners before being reappointed.
The six constables include Director of Public Safety Walter Beaupre, and security guards Erik Sasse, Angie Fowler, Michael Valkenburg, Eric Hodges-Baines, and Lloyd Stafford.
The constables said the change was a necessary step to being able to perform their job.
“I believe that it is a matter of when, not if we have another mass casualty shooting,” Sasse said. “We have no idea where or when, but it is always better to be prepared.”
“Unfortunately, I believe that it’s only a matter of time before we have another tragic incident;” Beaupre said. “What we don’t know is, where and when it will occur. We just hope that it doesn’t happen on our campus, however our Public Safety staff need to be ready to protect the campus community, regardless.”
There is no confirmed date on when the constables will complete their training and start carrying firearms on campus.