SD police chiefs advise governor on school safety

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2013 at 2:56 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013
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FORT PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Entry into South Dakota's school buildings should be restricted to help prevent shootings like last month's tragedy in Newtown, Conn., police chiefs from around the state told Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Wednesday.

Some police chiefs also said changes in laws or procedures may be needed to help them deal with mentally ill people who pose threats because they have guns.

Daugaard said he had intended to talk to the South Dakota Police Chiefs' Association about a plan to cut prison costs by treating more offenders outside prison walls, but instead decided to ask the more than two dozen police chiefs at the meeting for their thoughts on gun control and school safety. He said he expects those issues to come up in this year's legislative session in the wake of the Dec. 14 elementary school shooting in Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead.

After meeting with the police chiefs, Daugaard said he hasn't decided what position he will take on gun control and school safety during the legislative session. "I want to think about it some more," the Republican governor said.

Daugaard has said he supports gun rights, but last year he vetoed a bill approved by legislators that called for allowing most adults to carry concealed handguns without permits. He argued that the measure would have made it difficult for law officers to determine if people were qualified to carry concealed weapons.

A similar bill has been introduced this year. Some lawmakers have also said they will promote a measure allowing teachers and administrators to bring guns to school so they could stop an armed intruder.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, along with a requirement for universal background checks on gun buyers.

The South Dakota police chiefs who met with Daugaard did not comment on the president's proposal, but several said they believe it's too easy for people to get into school buildings.

Steve Allender, police chief in Rapid City, said schools are still being built so parents and other visitors get far into the building before checking in, and back doors are not secured.

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