By Kevin Quinn
Earlier this week, in Part 1 of this blog discussion, I described two primary considerations schools need to address when thinking about arming school staff members. In today’s post, I will pose some additional thoughts and questions related to the discussion.
Carry or Secure
Staff members permitted to carry or access a weapon discover a lot of new responsibilities and considerations. Carrying a concealed weapon everyday isn’t as easy as un-tucking your shirt; and maintaining both security of and access to the firearm is not always simple.
- Will permitted staff members carry a firearm at all times or will they secure the weapon (until needed) during the day?
- What is the best means to secure the weapon and still enable access in an emergency?
- Do local laws allow for carrying a weapon? Are individuals permitted to “open carry” or must the weapon be concealed?
Police officers have other options for force in situations where use of a firearm would be unsafe or inappropriate. Impact weapons, chemical weapons, electronic control devices, and control and restraint techniques are several examples. In a crowded school hallway, the use of a firearm may not be a realistic or safe option.
In addition to these major questions, there are multiple administrative concerns to address:
- Is the school district prepared to absorb the increased cost of insurance?
- What types of weapons and ammunition will be authorized?
- How often will training and certification be provided for civilian staff members?
- Who will pay for the costs associated with purchasing firearms, ammunition and training staff?
Another Option: SROs
Although placing School Resource Officers (SRO) in schools can be a financial and logistical challenge for many districts, I believe the best option for enhancing school safety is the presence of a properly trained SRO.
An SRO is a sworn officer, fully certified, properly equipped, and trained to deal with safety crises that may arise on school campuses. These officers also have direct radio contact with other responding officers during critical incidents. Further, SROs are available to guide and instruct students and staff in a variety of important areas of safety (e.g. driver safety, basic first aid, bike safety, drugs, etc.), as well as establish positive and supportive relationships with students.
Instead of trying to stop a “bad guy with a gun” with a “good guy with a gun,” I suggest we focus on providing schools with a sworn police officer, trained as a School Resource Officer.
Kevin Quinn is a 20-year veteran police officer and SRO in Arizona and the former President of the National Association of School Resource Officers. He is the current President of the Arizona School Resource Officers Association as well as an advisor to several school safety organizations. He can be reached on Twitter @klah316 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.