SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Spokane School Board is considering whether Spokane Public Schools should have its own armed security force as soon as January.
The Spokesman-Review reported that 13 district employees could start wearing Glock pistols at their sides in a few months if the school board approves the schedule. The board in April decided that school resource officers at each high school and middle school should carry guns, but details remained to be worked out
District security director Jason Conley said arming school resource officers is one safety measure in response to the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn. The district also plans more internal door locks in schools.
“It’s those outside threats that are driving us to this next level of safety,” Conley said.
The district’s officers would participate in weapons training at the Spokane Police Academy, which Police Chief Frank Straub says he welcomes. The district’s officers already train with local law enforcement on a regular basis, he said. The difference is now the training will also include firearms.
Straub says he supports the district’s decision to arm the school resource officers, most of whom used to work in law enforcement.
Only a handful of other school districts in the state arm their employees, said Mark Howard, supervisor of security services. Most school districts with armed officers partner with a local police department or sheriff’s office. In those cases, keeping the officers is contingent on the police department’s budget.
“Also, if there was a major police incident, we’d be left vulnerable,” Spokane school superintendent Shelley Redinger said. “When they are our employees, we are their first priority.”
The district would have to work with the Spokane Education Association to change the resource officers’ contracts because their work conditions are changing, said Jenny Rose, union president.