A Georgia police officer taking classes in his spare time got an unwanted lesson from a college instructor last week, but now it is the school that is feeling blue – and apologizing.
The unidentified cop was wearing his uniform and carrying his service gun when the Darton State College instructor reportedly became uncomfortable with his presence, according to WALB-TV. School officials confirmed the police officer was escorted out of the classroom, but did not elaborate.
“We have apologized to the officer for our misunderstanding when he attended class on our campus, and we regret this happened."
- Thomas Ormand, Darton State College
"Darton State College is appreciative for the service of our law enforcement, and welcome them as students on our campus,” Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Thomas Ormand said in a statement. “We have apologized to the officer for our misunderstanding when he attended class on our campus, and we regret this happened. We have met with the faculty and staff involved to reiterate the Georgia Law and Darton Policy.”
I understand the rules and regs that college campuses have and I guess one of the things that has to be communicated to an
Albany Police Chief Michael Persley said the police officer involved was not one of his men, but said it was distressing that some people see a uniformed police officer as threatening.
"We have to respect different interpretations that people have, and how they believe," said Persely, who studied criminal justice at the school. "Some people feel threatened by the sight of a gun, no matter who possesses it."
An Albany Police spokeswoman said the ejected officer was not from the city department, but declined to say what agency he worked for.
An armed law enforcement presence might not be the worst idea at Darton, where last June, an armed robbery took place. In that case, two 18-year-old men and a juvenile were arrested after meeting a victim on the campus to buy sneakers. The trio allegedly robbed the victim at gunpoint of three pairs of shoes and the keys to his truck. None of the people involved attended the school.
"I find it a bit disturbing that someone would object to having an armed law enforcement officer in the classroom," said Tim Reichert, spokesman for the Southern States Police Benevolent Association. "Much less, the very professor teaching the class.
"We feel that because of the line of work these officers are in and the training that they receive to do their jobs, they should be allowed to carry their firearm with them in whatever setting they are in," he added.
Official policy at the school prohibits firearms on campus, but makes an exception for cops.
“Students are prohibited from possession of firearms in or on college property except by law enforcement officers, judges and district attorneys,” reads the policy on the school’s website. “The possession or use of any other offensive weapons is prohibited.”
Darton State is located in Albany and is part of the University System of Georgia. The college has 84 two-year transfer and career associate degrees and 49 certificate programs.
School spokeswoman Cynthia George did not immediately return a request for comment.