Despite opposition from Boston police, the Northeastern University Police Department plans to begin equipping its officers with semiautomatic rifles to respond to campus emergencies.

The move to provide more firepower for the force comes amid heightened worries about mass shootings nationwide and debate over arming college police.

Northeastern police officials said the rifles will be deployed in officers’ vehicles during high-level threats, such as shooters on campus. NUPD Chief Michael A. Davis emphasized that the force has had semiautomatic rifles for years but developed a formal policy to deploy them in light of recent events.

The department is preparing to train 99 patrol officers to use military-style rifles, a dramatic boost in firepower that some officials say is excessive.

At least four other Boston universities — Boston University, MIT, Tufts University, and University of Massachusetts Boston — equip their officers with semiautomatic rifles.