The Pryor Times

Opinion

December 27, 2012

Inside the Capitol: School Safety

PRYOR — By now, many of you have heard of my proposal to allow CLEET (Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training) certified teachers, acting as fully sworn reserve officers, to carry (concealed) firearms on school campuses. This was not a knee jerk proposal; Connecticut was just the catalyst. I have been considering solutions to the vulnerability of our schools for some time. It’s just that I happen to be in a position to give voice to the thousands of other parents who share my concerns about school safety.

The purpose of the proposal, though controversial, is fairly obvious: harden the soft targets that are our schools and protect our children from a Connecticut style massacre. The bottom line is, when a mad man walks into a school to kill children, he should be stopped with the use of deadly force. Devotion to a policy that prohibits this possibility is a luxury that I will not - indeed cannot – indulge in. The glaring ineffectiveness of the gun-free zone is now, tragically, self-evident.

So the next step is: what is to be done?  Some have suggested allowing teachers and administrators, with a concealed carry permit, to simply carry on campus. An obvious, and likely best, solution would be to fund police officers for every campus. Others would simply suggest enhanced static security, like buzzer doors or better “lock down” procedures. Although I would welcome more static security, I believe the best option is to put trained, qualified personnel in place to respond to a violent threat.

CLEET certification of teachers and principals has much to recommend it. We have the mechanism in place right now: local CLEET reserve officer training. It’s a six-week course. (I’ve already had initial discussions on even tailoring the training to this exact scenario). The volunteers would likely come out of the woodwork. The cost would be comparatively low to hiring several thousand “resource” officers. The State would pick up the tab for the initial training with no ongoing cost to the schools. The money to fund resource officers would not “dry up” down the road when the Legislature faces a budget problem. The turn around time would be fast: we could have hundreds of trained teachers and principals protecting our schools by the fall. There would be no conflict with existing state or federal law prohibiting persons from carrying a weapon on campus because the volunteers would be sworn officers. In a word, it’s workable.

Having said that, I’m not committed to just one solution. Just before writing this, I attended a meeting of Sapulpa Schools’ Community Advisory Committee at the thoughtful invitation of the Chairwoman Stacy Berry. Superintendent Kevin Burr (an opponent of my idea - and my friend), the other parents, and myself all sat down and had a very good, very serious talk about the issue of school security. As we should in all our communities, we had a civil, productive discussion. We talked hard solutions. We may have our differences on how to get there, but I am confident, in this town and in this State, we will make the decisions necessary to protect our children. Period.

 

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