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Editorial: Don’t rearm security monitors

Editorial: Don’t rearm security monitors

There’s just too much that can go wrong with having so many guns in schools
Editorial: Don’t rearm security monitors
Saratoga Springs School Superintendent Michael Patton introduces a panel discussion on school safety in December 2018.
Photographer: Zachary Matson/Gazette Reporter

The question of whether a school district needs armed individuals monitoring the halls to protect students from harm is far from settled science.

But what is known is that guns kill, and that if school districts like Saratoga Springs do decide to have people wandering the halls with guns, they should make sure those individuals are active, highly trained, uniformed, professional police officers, current on their skills practice and armed with extra education on how to deal with students in a crisis.

The armed monitors carrying concealed weapons for years in Saratoga Springs didn’t cause harm.

But there’s just too much that can go wrong with having so many guns in schools – accidental discharge of weapons, students or teachers with emotional issues somehow obtaining the weapons, and officers not experienced in dealing with a crisis situation with children and teenagers overreacting to a situation and perhaps injuring or killing a student or teacher in the panic.

There are plenty of ways the district can keep students safe without resorting to a restoration of armed monitors.

In fact, it’s already doing that, by having an extensive camera surveillance network in the schools, a single point of entry for visitors to limit access by potential school shooters, regular safety drills, and an awareness campaign for students and staff to report any unusual activity.

It also employs counselors, psychologists and social workers that work in conjunction with teachers and students to identify and evaluate the needs of troubled students before they lash out. The district also has a good relationship with local police, which is essential in familiarizing staff and students at the school with officers and ensuring a quick and effective response to dangerous incidents.

Perhaps instead of investing more money in armed security personnel, the district could do even more to secure the buildings, particularly at times when students are most vulnerable, such as at the beginning and end of school days.

Do they need more security measures within the school, such as more gates in halls and more secure classroom doors?

When you’re dealing with kids, you can never have enough trained counselors and advocates who can step in before a problem becomes a crisis.

More regular training of school personnel and perhaps hiring of more counselors and social workers may be more effective than rehiring armed resource officers.

Because of the challenges in properly evaluating the quality of school resource officers, officials should also support a bill pending in the state Legislature (A515/ S3169), sponsored by Sen. Daphne Jordan in the Senate, that would create a school resource officer working group to study appropriate standards and training for school resource officers.

While arming security monitors in schools seems like a logical reaction to the threat of school violence, it could create more problems than it solves.

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