Valdosta Daily Times

State News

August 26, 2013

School officials discuss hiring armed police officers

ATLANTA — A recent shooting at McNair Discovery Learning Academy has state and local officials discussing whether to hire armed officers to patrol elementary schools.

The school’s principal, Brian Bolden, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he thinks elementary schools should be patrolled by armed police.

“I think one of the reasons is that bad guys are realizing that good guys aren’t in elementary schools — good guys who are armed,” Bolden said.  

On Aug. 20, a 20-year-old man shot at police outside the school and was later talked into surrendering to authorities by the school’s bookkeeper. No one was injured.  

State School Superintendent John Barge said the state may need to consider helping districts pay for school

police officers.

“It’ll be an extremely expensive funding issue,” he said. “But what value do you place on the life of children?”

School district officials will discuss hiring guards in the near future, Interim DeKalb County schools superintendent Michael Thurmond said. The district employed 57 school police officers in 2012 who patrolled elementary schools but were stationed at high schools, middle schools and the superintendent’s office.

Some Georgia lawmakers say teachers and administrators who are willing to carry guns should be trained to use them in active shooter situations.

“I’m sticking with my guns, saying we do need it,” state Rep. Willie Talton R-Warner Robins, told the newspaper. “Either we do that or we have to put security in those schools because we’re living in an entirely different world, and the kids have to be protected.”

School security consultant Ken Trump says elementary schools should get the same level of protection as high schools.  

“We have to make sure we don’t make elementary schools appear to be softer and easier targets,” he told the newspaper.

Director of the National School Safety Center Ronald Stephens said school districts should be careful not to overdo security upgrades because they could negatively impact a school’s atmosphere.

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