Boston’s school police need the right tools to protect students

The special police officers who patrol Boston’s schools depend mainly on their wits to defuse situations. That’s all the unarmed force has to fall back on. Even their aging radio system is incapable of communicating directly with the Boston Police or city’s emergency medical services.

The recent mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., has stimulated a lot of discussion on how best to secure schools from armed intruders. Some of the proposals are overheated, but the Menino administration shouldn’t categorically dismiss the idea of arming school-police officers, who are trained at police academies.

No matter what, Boston’s 75-member school police force should be provided with state-of-the-art communication equipment linked to the city’s emergency services. Police departments from Boston’s major colleges and universities already enjoy such access. It’s absurd that Boston’s public schools have been left behind in the vital area of communications.


Next, Boston’s school police should be issued non-lethal weapons, such as mace. Maintaining communication with troubled students will always be the best line of defense. But on the rare occasion when physical force is required, these officers need tools to protect themselves and the students in their care.