The Times West Virginian

January 6, 2013

Are armed guards on campuses the answer?


Times West Virginian

— Studies show that about a third of all public schools nationwide have armed guards on campuses. Considering that there are about 99,000 public elementary and secondary schools in the U.S., as well as 33,000 private schools, that would be a lot of officers.

The Department of Justice says there were 452,000 full-time law-enforcement officers across the country in 2009, the latest year for which data is available. Add to those ranks about 100,000 with an officer in every school.

Heck, it’s practically a jobs stimulus.

But the issue is training, of course. While, again, about a third of the schools have armed guards, there would need to be officers to fill the void in the schools without guards. Pulling them off the streets isn’t much of an option, considering staffing levels in even small, rural areas like our own are an issue, much less large metropolitan areas.

So there would have to be a influx of trained, armed officers. And there would have to be some sort of funding available, which may or may not be a funding match from the federal government. But, you know how that goes. Today, Congress would fund these positions after the emotional and heart-wrenching events in Newtown, Conn. But would there be funding a year from now? Ten years from now?

“My city has 32 elementary schools, five middle schools, six high schools, and that doesn’t include private schools,” Craig Steckler, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told the New York Times. “My patrol force is 89 officers on all shifts. Where are we going to get 40-some additional officers? I just don’t believe that putting more guns on the campus is a solution.”

Steckler said the IACP instead endorses more control over automatic weapons and better mental-health care treatment for families with issues.

Would, as NRA officials claim, having armed guards in every school in America “protect our children right now?” It’s been quite the topic to debate since the nation is still reeling from the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in mid-December. So we gave our readers the opportunity to weigh in on the debate on our online poll question, which can be found each week at www.timeswv.com.

Last week, we asked, “Officials with the National Rifle Association have suggested having armed protection in schools across the nation. What are your thoughts?”

And here’s what you had to say:

• We can barely afford teachers and education materials. How can we fund more positions? — 12.5 percent

• A “lockdown” mentality with guns and guards is not a healthy environment for school children — 29.17 percent

• Having a police presence serves as a deterrent for a lot of issues at schools. It’s a plan to consider — 58.33 percent

Again, the safety of our children is paramount. We certainly hope that something comes of such a horrific tragedy. Armed guards may or may not be the answer.

This week, let’s talk about food guidelines and federal rules. Is Big Brother watching you put that cheese burger in your mouth? Should he be?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond directly online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor

mpoe@timeswv.com

@MistyPoeTWV