December 29, 2012

School security measures get mixed reviews

Having trained police officers is one thing. Relying on volunteers carrying guns may be another.

By LARRY MARGASAK The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Rich Agundez
click image to enlarge

El Cajon (Calif.) Police Department school resource officer Rich Agundez Jr., who confronted and wounded a student who attacked Granite Hills High School with a shotgun in 2001, testifies in El Cajon.

The Associated Press

He said retired police officers, former members of the military or rescue personnel would be among those likely to volunteer.

There's debate over whether anyone should have a gun in a school, even a trained law enforcement officer.

"In general, teachers don't want guns in schools, period," said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, one of the two large unions representing teachers. He added that one size does not fit all districts and said the union has supported schools that wanted a trained officer. Most teachers, he said, do not want to be armed themselves.

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

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."

Agundez, 52, who retired as a policeman in 2010, learned shortly before his retirement just how much his trained reaction to a gunman 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."

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)