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School Officials Reject Idea of Arming Teachers at Safety Meeting

Law enforcement and school district officials said a meeting of the Safe Schools Partnership Program Thursday morning produced meaningful discussions on other ways to prevent a repeat of the tragic school shooting in Connecticut last week.

Law enforcement and school district officials said a meeting of the Safe Schools Partnership program Thursday morning produced meaningful discussions about ways the two groups can work together to improve safety at St. Louis-area schools in the wake of last week’s tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

“It was a very frank and open conversation between law enforcement and school officials about what can we do, what else can we do,” St. Louis County Police Department Chief Tim Fitch said in an interview with Patch after the meeting, which involved police departments and school districts from across the St. Louis area.

Fitch made national headlines earlier this week when he put forward the idea of arming school officials as a way of deterring future mass shootings. School leaders at Thursday’s meeting, however, failed to embrace the idea.

“The school officials here overwhelming reject that idea, which was no surprise,” he said. “There were a couple of hands that were raised when I said who was interested pursing that idea, but just a few. At this point, I don’t suspect we will have this conversation again about arming school officials until the next school shooting.”

Instead, Fitch said school officials were interested in implementing improved training on actions teachers can take when there is an active shooter in their building, threat assessments of individual buildings to identify security vulnerabilities and putting police officers in area elementary schools.

“That was their main interest,” he said about putting more officers in schools. “But their main concern about doing that is how are we going to pay for it?”

The idea of asking voters to approve a specific tax that could fund an added police presence was discussed as well, but Fitch said asking for tax increases is always a “significant hurdle.”

The St. Louis County Police immediately increased its presence at the elementary schools it provides security for following the massacre and Fitch said “that is not going to stop.” This will involve random visits to schools and walk-throughs along with having an officer present at the beginning and end of the school day.

Desi Kirchhofer, Deputy Superintendent with the Parkway School District, said after the meeting that they had no specific plans yet on funding additional school resource officers. Instead, he said the focus will be on working with the St. Louis County Police district and other law enforcement agencies to maintain this increased presence.

The meeting took place at the Parkway School District Instructional Services Center in Creve Coeur and was itself not open to the public. 

SEE PREVIOUS COVERAGE

  • Weapons Sales Go Up in Wake of Call for Tighter Gun Control
  • School Gun-Free Zones 'Paint Big Targets'
  • St. Louis County Police Chief Wants to Arm School Officials With Guns
  • Should Local Teachers Pack Pistols?
  • Mehlville Schools Superintendent Reacts to Connecticut Shooting
jojo December 20, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Violence begets violence
Karl Markl December 21, 2012 at 09:00 AM
I am proud of our school district school teachers decision not to arm teachers. I don't see a problem for an additional tax to hire more policemen/ policewomen to protect our children. Perhaps an alarm and master lock-down switch could be installed that automatically closes and locks all classroom doors in the case of a school intruder. Students should be taught to go to a secure area in the classroom which is away from any doors or windows.
Shawn December 21, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Don’t you think the principle of Sandy Hook, properly trained, could’ve been trusted to have a firearm at her disposal? I suspect there would have been a far different outcome if she and other trusted school officials could have met that threat on equal ground. To disacknowledge this is pure subjectivism.
Shawn December 21, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Also, by that logic, we should restrict schools from having fire extinguishers and leave it to the fire fighters. I want every line of defense possible to be available for the protection of my children.

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