Tonight’s Warsaw Community School Board meeting marked the third consecutive month that Steve Long, a concerned parent and employee at Eagle Creek Firearms, addressed the school board on what safety measures parents can expect the school to take to prevent school violence. (See related)
In an address to the board, Long requested that the school consider the installation of metal detectors at each school’s entrance as well as training school employees to act as armed security throughout their work day. Long, who believes all teachers and staff should be trained and armed to protect their students, states that many schools choose to equip only a few personnel that gunmen know to target first. According to Long, the process of equipping all staff would eliminate that problem.
Though many may consider Long’s approach to be a bit overkill, according to him, “Its better to have and not need, than to need and not have. I’m asking you guys to consider something that is really unpopular with people. If you want to put one police officer in a school, that’s great, but two or three would be better.
“I’m asking you guys to please consider arming your staff, they are begging me to come here. Give them the option … if they pass a background check, let them carry if they want to. The bigger deterrent isn’t that four teachers or three police officers, it’s that every teacher might be armed. The unknown is the bigger deterrent.”
Long continued, “I’ve been around to several schools and I’ve noticed the law enforcement is more visible and that’s good, I don’t think it’s quite enough.”
In the past few months, many of the schools within the school system have installed buzzer systems at entrances as well as panic buttons should an emergency situation arrise. Though the school board has made many additions to its safety plan, according to school board member Dan Metzger, the school has no current plans to arm school personnel.
“We’ve had lengthy conversations about school security and I will be honest with you, at this stage were not considering the option of arming staff. You can keep beating that drum all you want, but at this point were not going to arm our staff.”
Metzger continued to state that should the school ever consider the option of arming school employees, they would be willing to contact Long for potential training at that time.
Warsaw Community School System Superintendent Dr. Craig Hintz also responded to Long’s address stating that following spring break, off duty, uniformed law enforcement officers will be spending time at WCS schools. The officers will be spending time at the schools each week day and are intended to become an important part of the school community.
“Officers will have 24/7 access to our schools and will work flexible hours that might include the start of school, end of the school day, lunches, recess and even special events. In addition to providing a higher level of safety at our schools with trained law enforcement officers, we believe that this will be a great opportunity for law enforcement personnel to continue to build positive and trusting relationships with our students, staff and families.
“Teachers will talk to students about the presence of the officers and that they are in our schools to provide additional support to promote and sustain a safe learning environment. We believe that school safety is a community effort and we will encourage our students, staff and parents to report any unsafe behavior to an adult.”
Hintz also credited school safety success to the School Resource and D.A.R.E. officers that currently work with students and staff throughout the district. According to Hintz, they have become invaluable to the school community and safety program.
For further information or questions about Warsaw Community School Sytem’s comprehensive school safety program, contact WCS Director of Buildings and Grounds, Greg Schroeder, at 574-269-1796.