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Mohon super considers arming top security official

Mohon super considers arming top security official

Safety director was longtime state trooper
Mohon super considers arming top security official
The entrance to Mohonasen High School on Warrior Path Drive is shown in 2015.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

ROTTERDAM -- Mohonasen Central School District's new superintendent, Shannon Shine, may soon recommend the school board authorize the district’s top security monitor, a former state police officer, to carry a gun on school grounds.

Shine has yet to make a specific proposal to the board, but he has directed the district's assistant superintendent for business, Chris Ruberti, with spelling out what that would entail. Shine supports the notion of arming James McCrum, a former state police investigator who now works as the district’s director of safety and security.

“If I have trained police officers or retired police officers, I think it’s a wise idea in this day and age to have them armed,” he said during a wide-ranging interview Monday.

Shine could take a proposal to the board as early as next month, though he has not yet discussed the matter with the board, he said.

“I know that’s a very controversial subject, so I would need to find out what the Board of Education feels in that regard before doing anything,” Shine said.

Under state law, school boards must authorize individuals to carry firearms on school grounds. Otherwise, anyone carrying a firearm on school grounds -- with the exception of active law enforcement -- faces a felony charge.

The district employs Rotterdam Police Officer Mike Rumbaugh as a school resource officer, but Shine said he is limited in how much of the district he can cover at once. Rumbaugh is based at Mohonasen High School but works at the district’s various buildings.

While McCrum supervises a staff of other school security monitors, Shine said he doesn’t know whether other district employees have law enforcement experience. District officials at the moment are only considering authorizing McCrum to carry a gun on school grounds, Shine said.

Also see: Mohon's new superintendent takes on full agenda, Sept. 24, 2018

Shine said McCrum and Ruberti asked him to consider authorization for McCrum to carry a firearm while on school grounds sometime over the summer, shortly after Shine started as superintendent.

“They wondered about it, and they wanted to know where I stood on it,” Shine said.

He tasked Ruberti with outlining McCrum’s experience and the logistics of allowing him to carry a firearm on school grounds.

Before joining the Mohonasen staff in 2016, McCrum worked as a state police officer for 23 years, where he finished as a senior investigator. McCrum is a trained crisis negotiator and is also trained in administering polygraph tests, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Also see: Saratoga Springs schools may rearm grounds monitors, Sept. 11, 2018

The question of authorizing district personnel to carry firearms has also recently arisen in Saratoga Springs schools, where as many as 10 former police officers now on district staff could be authorized to carry firearms. Some of the district’s ground monitors, most of whom have worked in law enforcement, previously carried firearms on school grounds for years without the proper authorization, district officials said earlier this month. They stopped doing so in the spring after it was determined they were not in compliance with state law.

At its Thursday meeting, the Saratoga Springs school board is expected to consider whether to authorize the grounds monitors to carry firearms and how that would fit into the district’s broader safety plans.

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