Posting an armed officer in every Parkway and Rockwood school and in schools across the country is the goal of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the guns-rights lobby announced on Friday.
The statement comes on the heels of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT, where 20 children and six adults were killed. NRA had remained silent until Wednesday, when it first announced its intention to offer "meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."
The Parkway School District already has armed school resource officers (SROs) stationed at every middle and high school in the district. In each case, the officer is provided by the police department in which the school is located.
On Thursday, Parkway Deputy Superintendent Desi Kirchhofer said the district was already in talks with local police departments, including the St. Louis County Police Department, about having patrol officers provide regular check-ins at the elementary schools.
"We have already decided to up the presence at our elementary schools," he said.
Town and Country Police Captain Gary Hoelzer tells Patch that he has spoken with Fred Crawford, the safety and security director for Parkway. Hoelzer has also met with Mason Ridge School Principal Mike Schmerold, which is the only Parkway school in Town and Country.
"We have discussed plans for the short term and the long term, all of which involve greater officer presence. While there are funding issues for the long term, our primary objective at this point is addressing the immediate concerns of our schools and so we are devoting our resources to that end. Hope that makes sense," Hoelzer tells Patch in an email.
Funding is the main issue according to local school districts and police departments.
The funding for an SRO is entirely footed by individual districts, so the financial burden of increasing patrols or adding additional security personnel is placed squarely on schools. Kirchhofer didn't detail any specific plans to add dedicated officers to the elementary schools at this point, but said providing a safe environment for learning is one of the district's goals.
"If that's what it takes, then their may be funds to reallocated to make it up."
Tim Fitch, chief of the St. Louis County Police Department, previously suggested that school officials arm themselves to protect students, an idea that was rejected by local school officials during a meeting of the Safe Schools Partnership Program on Thursday.
Fitch said the "main interest" of school during the meeting was putting police officers in area elementary schools.
“But their main concern about doing that is how are we going to pay for it?” he said.
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.”
(See related: Clayton Parent Says Teachers Should Teach, Not Be Police)
Following the shooting, President Barack Obama has pledged to make gun control a "central issue" in his second term, reports the New York Times. A proposal is expected within a few weeks.
The NRA's statement approaches the issue much differently. Instead of creating more stringest gun control laws, the NRA suggests that guns in schools would prevent future shootings.
TELL US: Do you believe an armed officer in every school is the right approach? Or do you think tougher gun laws is necessary? Let us know in the comments below.
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