July 31, 2013
Clarksville High School in Arkansas will be the first high school to utilize state laws that allow armed security guards in schools to arm teachers.
Training is underway now that will facilitate teachers carrying concealed weapons when classes resume.
David Hopkins, superintendent for Clarksville explained: “The plan we’ve been given in the past is, ‘Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best.’ That’s not a plan.”
Twenty teachers, including volunteers and other facility are training with a private security firm to turn them into licensed guards. Those in the program will receive 9-mm Walter PPS and holster; including $1,100 for a total of $50,000 the school in spending.
To make sure these participants are full trained, they will receive 53 hours which is 5 times the requirements for security guards in Arkansas.
Hopkins said : “They’re not gonna be in a uniform, and they’re not gonna be wagging their gun on their side. We’re going to be very discrete about it, but yet we’re going to be trained professionals, and we’re going to be able to provide security for our kids in a matter of seconds instead of minutes.”
Instead of hiring an independent security firm, Hopkins asserts : “We’re not tying our money up in a guard 24/7 that we won’t have to have unless something happens. We’ve got these people who are already hired and using them in other areas. Hopefully we’ll never have to use them as a security guard.”
Students will not know which teachers are armed and which are not to ensure that Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are able to assist at a moment’s notice.
CERT is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These are trained members of each community educated in “disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.”
Donna Morey, former president of the Arkansas Education Association (AEA) said: “We just think educators should be in the business of educating students, not carrying a weapon.”
Arkansas and 6 other states; such as Ohio, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Washington State have adopted measures to place armed guards in public schools.
School districts in Florida, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Alabama and New Jersey have hired armed police officers to patrol and protect their campuses based on Vice President Joe Biden’s national recommendations last January.
Like those other schools, Sidwell Friends School, where President Obama’s two daughters attend, have 11 security officers and is seeking to hire armed police officers to patrol the campus.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) School Resource Officer program offers government certified law enforcement officers to patrol campuses as part of a national initiative.
Sheriff Douglas Harp of Nobile County, Indiana suggested deputizing teachers in order to carry handguns in classrooms just after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Last January, a scheduled Code Red lockdown was performed at Cary-Grove High School in Illinois.
This drill was complete with the firing of blanks into a hallway to give the students the very real impression that they were being attacked. Officials claimed that this exercise would help teachers and students “recognize the sound and react quickly should an active gunman situation occur.”
According the school website: “The drill will begin with a public address announcement about the lockdown. After staff have secured their rooms, Cary police and administrators will sweep the building to ensure all students made it into secure locations and assess any potential issues that may become apparent from the practice. Following this, a second PA announcement will be made informing students and staff that gunfire will be simulated so that they might be able to recognize the sound and react quickly, should an active gunman situation occur.”
They went on to explain: “Following the drill, a discussion will ensue between the students and their classroom teacher. We will utilize this feedback as a building and police department to assess our security and make any necessary adjustments to our building plan. Our sole purpose for utilizing the blanks is to fully prepare our students and staff.”
Parents whose children attend the school were concerned that the simulated gunfire was going beyond necessities. One parent said: “If you need to run a drill, you run a drill. They run fire drills all the time, but they don’t run up and down the hallway with a flamethrower.”
Students were upset by the crassness of the drill. Some participants pointed out that not all guns sound the same when fired. And a substitute teacher suggested that there be proactive training on what do to in such a situation instead of the terrifying drill that was conducted by school officials.
Jeff Puma, spokesperson for the high school explained that the administration is working with the Cary Police Department who recommended that this drill take place. Puma said: “It was their recommendation that we do this in order to create the knowledge necessary to keep our students safe in an active crisis situation.”
Puma said that the police referred to the students as “sitting ducks” while in their classrooms should a shooter enter the building. The police intimated that the students remain in their classrooms for “safety reasons” rather than try to escape through a window or run out a door.