Bates College takes away batons from security officers

LEWISTON, ME - NOVEMBER, 7: Students walk past Hathorn Hall in the Bates College campus in Lewiston where flyers were circulated that some consider an attempt at voter suppression. Monday, November 7, 2016. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images) Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

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LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — Bates College officials have decided to take away the batons carried by its security officers this week, following a petition signed by 18 groups and 546 people.

The petition by the Bates Leftist Coalition and the Bates Restorative and Transformative Justice Coalition called for the removal of batons and handcuffs from the officers and opposed equipping them with body cameras, the Sun Journal reported.

The petition is the result of an altercation on March 5 where a veteran officer, Dennis Skinner, tackled and handcuffed a first-year student at the Maine college who refused to identify himself.

Skinner was fired last week following an outside investigation.

Petition signers say they were “deeply concerned with the Bates College administration’s response to violent acts by its office of Campus ‘Safety,’” including “the violent assault on a first-year student.”

The petitioners said body cameras would have little effect on deterring police violence.

Vice president for campus life Josh McIntosh responded to the petition in an email telling students that it “is fair to say that our current model is not working well” for neither students nor Campus Safety staff.

“We need to address fundamental issues in order to make the structural and cultural changes that will allow us to make progress and improve the functioning of Campus Safety” McIntosh wrote.

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