Missouri panel recommends armed officers in every school
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri task force has recommended that schools in the state employ armed officers if they can afford it and if their local governments support the idea.
The task force, headed by Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, spent four months working on a school safety plan and released its findings Wednesday.
“Where economically feasible and embraced by local governance, schools should have the benefit of an armed school resource officer or an armed school protection officer in every school to provide an immediate response in the event of an active shooter situation,” the report said.
The panel, which comprised school and law enforcement officials and mental health professionals, recommended the move as one piece of an overall plan designed to keep students safe and to help them cope with the emotional strain in the event school safety is compromised.
The group used the federal government’s school safety report as a template. That report was commissioned in 2018 after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Since the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida lawmakers funneled $400 million toward school safety initiatives.
Missouri has set aside $300,000 for school safety efforts, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported .
The report points out specific details that should be dictated at the local level in response to local needs.
“Missouri schools are each unique. What works very well in an urban or affluent school to promote school safety may not be possible in a rural or economically challenged school,” the report noted.
Missouri’s current guidelines say schools should have a safety coordinator. But the task force found that role lacks a clear job description and that there is no comprehensive school safety training. The group didn’t mention arming teachers or placing metal detectors inside entrances.
The panel also recommended the state offer a set of standards for conducting drills and exercises.
“Often drills are conducted without a clear understanding by all parties involved of what is being tested or evaluated, and little to no documentation of the results to help correct deficiencies,” the report said.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com