Share “Experts: Trained police needed for school...”

Experts: Trained police needed for school security

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm •  Published: December 28, 2012
Advertisement

"It's a school. It's not a place where guns should be," he commented.

The security situation around the country is mixed.

—Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he has the authority to mobilize private citizens to fight crime and plans to post armed private posse members around the perimeter of schools. He said he hasn't spoken to specific school districts and doesn't plan to have the citizen posse members inside the buildings.

—The Snohomish School District north of Seattle got rid of its school officers because of the expense.

—The Las Vegas-based Clark County School District has its own police department and places armed officers in and around its 49 high school campuses. Officers patrol outside elementary and middle schools. The Washoe County School District in Nevada also has a police force, but it was only about a decade ago that the officers were authorized to carry guns on campus.

—In Milwaukee, a dozen city police officers cover the school district but spend most of their time in seven of the 25 high schools. In Madison, Wis., an armed police officer has worked in each of the district's four high schools since the mid-1990s.

—For the last five years, an armed police officer has worked in each of the two high schools and three middle schools in Champaign, Ill. Board of Education member Kristine Chalifoux said there are no plans to increase security, adding, "I don't want our country to become an armed police state."

—A Utah group is offering free concealed-weapons permit training for teachers as a result of the Connecticut shootings. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne proposed a plan to allow one educator in each school to carry a gun.

Ed Massey, vice chairman of the Boone County, Ky., school board and president of the National School Boards Association, said his district has nine trained law enforcement officers for 23 schools and "would love to have one in every school."

"They bring a sense of security and have done tremendous work in deterring problems in school," he said. "The number of expulsions have dramatically decreased. We used to have 15 or 20 a year. Now we have one or two in the last three years."

An officer, he said, "is not just a hired gun. They have an office in the school. They are trained in crisis management, handling mass casualties and medical emergencies."

He said a poster given out by the local sheriff's department shows one of the officers and talks about literacy and reading.

Kenneth Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services consulting firm, said having trained officers in schools is "more of a prevention program than a reactive program if you have the right officers who want to work with kids."

But he also criticized a drop in funding for school security, saying, "Congress and the last two administrations have chipped away to the point of elimination of every program for school security and emergency planning."

Dr. Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center that provides training to schools, said the NRA's suggestion of using volunteers "is a whole new concept of school safety." He questioned whether the NRA wants to bring the best sharpshooters on campus.

"How is that going to create a positive atmosphere for young people?" he asked. "How does that work on the prevention side?"

Agundez, 52, who retired as a policeman in 2010, learned shortly before his retirement just how much his trained reaction to a shooter affected students at Granite Hills High.

He was writing a traffic ticket and the driver's whole body started shaking. He had been a student that day nine years earlier.

"He gave me a hug," Agundez recalled. "He said 'I always wanted to thank you.' You saved our lives."

___

Associated Press writers Todd Richmond, Michael Tarm, Greg Moore, Ken Ritter, Sandra Chereb and Donna Blankinship contributed to this report.

___

Follow Larry Margasak on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/LarryMargasak