Starting in the new school year, armed security will be present at elementary schools in the Brighton Area Schools district.
At Monday’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve extending the presence of law enforcement-trained individuals to Hawkins, Hilton, Hornung and Spencer elementary schools.
The decision follows the shooting rampage on May 24 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas in which 19 children and three adults were killed, and 18 others were injured.
BAS Board Trustee Alicia Reid posted to social media that the board has been in discussions about the possibility of hiring a security firm to put retired/former law enforcement in elementary buildings at the last several meetings.
“It was absolutely discussed in public, and the vote to move forward with Premier Security was 7-0 in support this past Monday,” said Reid. “I can’t speak for anyone else but myself, but I can share why I voted in support of hiring security for the elementary schools. I don’t see this as a “good guy with a gun”. I see this as an improvement to screening who is in our buildings. I see this as more eyes on perimeters and hallways to sound the alarm if one is needed. This is someone dedicated to the physical security of the building at all times, not splitting focus between the other duties of front office and admin with security. To me, this isn’t even about shootings.”
Reid said she doesn’t believe this decision should be, or is, being taken without regard to other steps that can and should be taken to protect students and staff. She said they have added counselors in this year’s budget and continue to support the emotional well-being of our students.
“We have to be diligent in responding to bullying,” Reid said. “We need to be thoughtful with threat assessment. And we have to be careful with how this one measure is implemented. I don’t want the schools to look like or feel like high security locations. I don’t want kids to be scared walking in past an ominous police presence. Our existing police liaisons have set a good example for how this can be done, and I have confidence the added security will follow that model.”
Reid emphasized that student discipline practices will continue to be handled by district personnel, and not by the security staff.
One district parent that spoke to GIGO News about the plan was Michelle Haus, who said armed guards provide a false sense of security that doesn’t get to the root of the issues usually involved in school shootings.
“In my opinion what this district needs is better communication and more transparency regarding the number of kids bullying and making threats, so parents understand the mental health consequences, and safety risks in their own homes,” said Haus. “We all need to work together as a community to nurture a sense of safety and confidence in these kids, not instill fear, normalize guns, and open the door for accidents. This 170k should go toward education on the root causes. If you are worried about shootings, security guards haven’t had much luck stopping them in the past, it seems to me a false sense of security is actually more dangerous. We instead need to stay alert, keep a line of communication open for our kids, and not be afraid to report things out of the ordinary.”
In an email to the BAS community on Thursday, Outlaw said that the company chosen was “carefully vetted with the assistance of law enforcement and I had the opportunity to work with this company in my previous district.”
Outlaw says the program will entail the following:
The company selected only uses retired or former law enforcement officers to serve in these roles. This was extremely important to the district as well as law enforcement for many obvious reasons.
One law enforcement officer will be placed at each of our four elementary schools beginning this fall. While concealed, they are armed.
The officers will be present all day with the primary responsibilities of screening visitors, monitoring the campus directly and through cameras, observing and advising regarding security, and being present in the case of a security situation. Administration and staff will continue to handle student discipline.
They wear plain clothes and, to the students, they will just be the nice security person at the entrance. Officers are carefully selected not just for their training and experience, but also for their disposition to work within an elementary school.
Our police liaisons (Officer Bell – BHS/Bridge, Deputy Schuster – Scranton, Officer Mitchell – Maltby) will continue to be our district leads for security. The retired officers will work as part of our security team and collaboratively with all of our local law enforcement agencies. These are a few of the many reasons that this investment in security is beneficial for our schools:
The presence of trained and experience law enforcement in our schools serves as both a deterrent as well as an immediate, frontline for response.
While we live in a very safe community, timing is essential if there ever was a safety situation in one of our buildings.
Law enforcement can see situations or dangers early due to their training and experience. They will be able to assist with identifying areas for improvement as well as enforcement of essential safety measures within the buildings.
Outlaw said he will provide another update for families and staff closer to the beginning of the school year.