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Two security officers at local college now armed

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Judge Thomas Lilley administers the oath of office to Carleton “Cla” Avery and Mireya Trujillo Wednesday at the start of the ENMU-R Branch Community College Board meeting. Ralph Fresquez, another member re-elected to the board, was not present and will take the oath at a later meeting. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Two Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell security officers now carry firearms.

Cpt. Brad McFadin, head of the Campus Security Department, informed Branch Community College Board members during the group’s Wednesday meeting that he had been certified Monday to carry a gun. Lt. Benjamin Dean also is authorized to be an armed officer.

“Moving forward, our security staff that we have now will be given the opportunity to move forward to becoming armed,” McFadin said. “Some of them, if they do, great. If not, we’ll check out some other options with that.”

McFadin, who served in law enforcement for 25 years before joining ENMU-R in January 2019, had said at prior meetings that the hiring of additional officers was a possibility, depending on what current security staff decided about taking the training necessary to become armed officers.

The community college board and the ENMU Board of Regents voted in September to allow security officers who receive training and a license to carry guns.

ENMU-R also authorized initial expenditures of $272,157 to pay for training, licensing, additional pay and benefits for those who become certified as armed officers, and the hiring of up to two additional officers.

The decisions came after McFadin and Dean discussed their views that campus security needed to be able to respond quickly to people who come on campus with weapons, which they said they have seen a number of times in recent years. Without being certified as an armed officer, they said, campus security personnel only have the authority to talk with suspected law violators.

While the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office and Roswell Police Department have responded as quickly as possible to their requests for assistance in the past, McFadin and Dean said, it can take several minutes for them to reach campus. In the case of an active shooter, those minutes could be critical in saving people from injuries or death, they contended.

Before the board and regents voted, ENMU-R held several meetings to discuss the issue with faculty, staff and students.

Also during the Wednesday meeting, two of the three re-elected board members were given the oath of office. The third, Ralph Fresquez, could not attend the meeting and will take the oath at some other time. Fresquez, District 4; Mireya Trujillo, District 1; and Carleton “Cla” Avery, District 5, all ran unopposed during November local elections. They were elected to four-year terms.

The board also voted to retain its current officers for the coming years. Trujillo is president. Avery is vice president and Patricia Parsons, District 2, is secretary.

In addition, board members gave preliminary approval to discontinue two certificate programs that are thought to no longer serve students’ or local industry’s needs. The ENMU Board of Regents is scheduled to consider the actions at its Jan. 23 meeting in Santa Fe.

The programs planned for deactivation are a phlebotomy certificate program offered to members of the New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe Academy, a program of the New Mexico National Guard, and a surveying certificate of employability offered within the Engineering and Design program.

According to ENMU-R staff, the phlebotomy skills are covered by other programs and the surveying program, as now offered, is considered outdated according to current industry standards.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.