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School Officials Reject Idea of Arming Teachers at Safety Meeting

However, law enforcement and school district officials said a meeting of the Safe Schools Partnership Program Thursday morning produced meaningful discussions on other ways to prevent a repeat of the tragic school shooting in Connecticut last week.

Law enforcement and school district officials said a meeting of the Safe Schools Partnership program Thursday morning produced meaningful discussions about ways the two groups can work together to improve safety at St. Louis-area schools in the wake of last week’s tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

“It was a very frank and open conversation between law enforcement and school officials about what can we do, what else can we do,” St. Louis County Police Department Chief Tim Fitch said in an interview with Patch after the meeting, which involved police departments and school districts from across the St. Louis area.

Fitch made national headlines earlier this week when he put forward the idea of arming school officials as a way of deterring future mass shootings. School leaders at Thursday’s meeting, however, failed to embrace the idea.

“The school officials here overwhelming reject that idea, which was no surprise,” he said. “There were a couple of hands that were raised when I said who was interested pursing that idea, but just a few. At this point, I don’t suspect we will have this conversation again about arming school officials until the next school shooting.”

Instead, Fitch said school officials were interested in implementing improved training on actions teachers can take when there is an active shooter in their building, threat assessments of individual buildings to identify security vulnerabilities and putting police officers in area elementary schools.

“That was their main interest,” he said, of the last option. “But their main concern about doing that is how are we going to pay for it?”

The idea of asking voters to approve a specific tax that could fund an added police presence was discussed as well, but Fitch said asking for tax increases is always a “significant hurdle.”

The St. Louis County Police immediately increased its presence at the elementary schools it provides security for following the massacre and Fitch said “that is not going to stop.” This will involve random visits to schools and walk-throughs along with having an officer present at the beginning and end of the school day.

Desi Kirchhofer, Deputy Superintendent with the Parkway School District, said after the meeting that they had no specific plans yet on funding additional school resource officers. Instead, he said the focus will be on working with the St. Louis County Police district and other law enforcement agencies to maintain this increased presence.

The meeting took place at the Parkway School District Instructional Services Center and was itself not open to the public. 

Cynthia C. December 20, 2012 at 05:49 PM
As a parent of young children, in many ways I'm relieved the idea was rejected. I still say let's teach the staff and students a form of martial arts as a method of "what else can we do" to make the schools safer. Martial arts are not just skills for defense, but if taught properly, also instill confidence and self-discipline - all skills which many youngsters can benefit from.
Reese Forbes December 20, 2012 at 06:15 PM
At least the Desi Kirchhofer and other "school officials" have some common sense in not wanting guns in the classroom.
Marc Perez December 20, 2012 at 06:34 PM
It is easier to point fingers after the fact and "THEN" do some thing to address the problem. There is an option, of course schools are anti-2nd amendment. Once an intruder who intends to do harm in a school, mall, theater or other place enters the bad things can happen fast. OK, the police are 3-5 minutes away in the Rockwood School District. Sorry, that is 3-5 minutes too long. The school, the police will then tell the grieving +/or survivors they did the best they could. But they didn't. There are teachers who themselves have CCW endorsements, there are probably some who are war veterans..... If they have the ability and the desire to be armed, concealed and confident this prohibition makes no sense. It has worked in Israel for over 5 years since a slaughter there in the 50's. They learned their lesson, armed some of their teachers and there has not been a school shooting since. Learn the lessons of history or we are doomed to repeat them. It can't happen here?
Marc Perez December 20, 2012 at 06:36 PM
The above should read "In Israel for over ***50*** years."
Caffeinated December 20, 2012 at 08:48 PM
"The idea of asking voters to approve a specific tax that could fund an added police presence was discussed as well, but Fitch said asking for tax increases is always a “significant hurdle.” Such an increase will find significant support, I suspect. It is worth further discussion and logistical proposals.
Michael Hill December 20, 2012 at 09:06 PM
As wealthy as the residence of Wildwood are, they could easily afford to hire ex miliatry police to guard their schools.
ltm December 20, 2012 at 10:45 PM
St. Louis WOW St. Louis County Police Department! I had no idea there is Safe Schools Partnership of St. Louis County launched during the 1998-1999 school year. This has got to be the most responsible action taken yet in our country. Your department is more than up to speed. Thank you for your service to our communities. I feel that it would be important to consider including a behavioral psychiatrist or more to help disseminate what is important and what is not at your meeting. Would you consider teaching the schools staff and community of what to be aware of and what to look for in characteristics of suicidal, depressed or manic behavior. I would think that perhaps arranging rescue drills including local medical services physicians and other support groups, as well as, citizens who could be instrumental - especially your senior citizen population to help in a crisis.
ltm December 20, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Frankly, I do not believe going after guns or assault rifles is the answer. Most guns used in these gun massacres were obtained legally. I value our 2nd amendment rights and do not wish to see controversial legislation attacking the gun or all the responsible citizens that own a gun for protection even when out in the community with a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Perhaps it is time to hold responsible drug manufacturers and psychiatrist to a more rigid standard in prescribing psychiatric medications with criminal responsibility or negligence in the use and treatment of mind altering drugs.
ltm December 20, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Asking an educator to carry firearms and be responsible for eliminating an attacker seems too much to ask. And who wants an armed x-military presents patrolling your school grounds? What about alarms and metal barricades in the form of bookshelves in a class room or automatic door locks perhaps isolating a shooter when alone? There must be some good ideas out there to help. We are not Israel and we need to give this more thought and take some time to consider alternate and multiple methods of approaches. When a teacher goes on vacation or is out ill what about a substitute police detective or combat experienced veteran teaching credentials who can be used as security that monitors the schools behavior and children without much attention or notice. These folks could be rotated school to school and district to district without anyone necessarily noticing them. Just some on the spot thoughts. I am sure your community can come up with some great ideas - why not see what they can offer?
Marc Perez December 21, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Watch the followign youtube video, it might change opinions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=M1u0Byq5Qis
Dirk Diggler December 21, 2012 at 03:41 AM
sure . . . your kids can be the human sacrifice . . . or you can wise up and recognize that someone with a CCW permit and a background check may be the only thing allowing you to hug your kids again. ever.
ltm December 21, 2012 at 07:50 AM
Excellent video - a must see! Thank you Marc
Dirk Diggler December 21, 2012 at 12:16 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcyLeOm6yGc&feature=youtu.be
Monroe Parsons December 21, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I agree, it is much better to lunge at an attacker with only your bare hands That way you are not distracted from your duties as principal, your immediately killed. Geez! Quite a few teachers where I teach are former military and former law enforcement persons. Many others or just responsible firearms owners. We are not asking kindergarten teachers to join Mousad. Just let the people who choose to defend life from evil have a tool. Look at Utah where teaching certificate+CCW certificate= no school murders since 1996.
MikeyParks December 21, 2012 at 02:56 PM
I'm sure that most parents would rather have their children be sitting ducks for a deranged shooter than permit qualified, armed adults to give them real protection. Maybe this is Darwinism in action.
Marc Perez December 21, 2012 at 08:30 PM
http://www.examiner.com/article/st-louis-county-police-chief-questions-wisdom-of-schools-as-gun-free-zones
dagny taggart December 21, 2012 at 09:57 PM
I just got on here to see if F/O's head exploded today. The NRA wants to arm schools by using taxpayer money.
ltm December 22, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Then when the revolt comes the government can hold our kids hostage.
Mike K December 22, 2012 at 05:57 PM
And you think that "school lockdowns" or TSA fondling (er, I mean "searches") don't already do that today?
Joey December 22, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I cannot believe that I just read that. I had to walk away from my screen and come back, but the message is still sitting here. I seriously cannot believe what I just read. I am dumbfounded, and I feel like I lost some brain power. Wow.
Joey December 22, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Oh, and let me know how those martial arts you teach a 5 year old stacks up against an AR-15, or heck, a .22 pistol.
Joey December 22, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Right on Reese. I would much rather have dead children than armed teachers.
ltm December 23, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Preventing another Massacre by Jeff Jacoby Good laws will never abolish all evil. A must read: http://www.aish.com/ci/s/Preventing-another-Massacre.html

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