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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?

Force Considerations

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.

Other Concerns

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.

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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 kquinn@asroa.org.

By Kevin Quinn

There has been much talk about school safety and active shooters. One solution discussed at great lengths is arming school staff to deter and respond to an active shooter. Some people say the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. I wish it were that easy, but there are several considerations to take when the topic of arming school staff members arises. For today’s blog, I will discuss two primary issues, identification and training. In Part 2 of this blog post, I will cover the remaining issues.

Identification

schoolsecurity-6c52aaecAs a police officer, I wear a uniform that identifies me to other officers and the public. Even if responders can’t see my face, they know I am not the suspect and can react accordingly when locating the threat. Unfortunately, teachers do not dress any differently than regular civilians and do not stand out in a crowd at a school – especially high schools and colleges where the students are older than elementary school students.

Furthermore, when officers arrive at the scene of an active shooter, our first goal is to end the violence. As we attempt to locate the suspect, we look for someone with a weapon. Imagine we come across Mr. Jones, the math teacher, in the hallway with his gun drawn. Chances are, Mr. Jones will be detained until his identity can be confirmed. That is, of course, if Mr. Jones doesn’t react in a way the officers deem a threat. In that case, there is a possibility of injury. But here’s another alarming variable –time – precious time that officers should be spending locating and apprehending the suspect.

Training

How much training will the armed staff members receive when the program is put into place? How much on-going annual training will they receive? How many hours will a staff member train before being allowed to carry a gun in schools? Depending on the location in the country, I have heard everything from eight to 24 hours of firearms training. It is important to realize that being able to shoot holes in paper does NOT mean you are ready for a potential deadly-force encounter. That readiness comes with intensive force-on-force training, decision-making scenarios, and high-stress combat shooting.

As you can see, identification and training alone raise several questions we need to consider before deciding to arm our school staff members. Look for Part 2 of the blog post, later this week.

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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 kquinn@asroa.org.