Are Armed Guards In Schools The Answer?
4 months ago
Here's what it's like for urban students already living under heightened security
Kanita Wilson, 14, had always been a bit nervous around police officers - even when she had done nothing wrong. When she was a little girl, the police were called to settle a domestic dispute between her divorced parents.
Their uniforms, badges and especially the guns in their holsters scared her.
“There were these big men around suddenly,” Wilson recalled. “I didn’t know what to do or what they were going to do.”
Wilson, now a freshman at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C., isn’t intimidated by the police anymore. When she goes to school, she passes through a metal detector, shows an identification card with a bar code and sees armed guards. And, she’s been dealing with this kind of heightened security since she was a sixth grader at Alice Deal Middle School.
Adam Lanza's massacre of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last month has sparked a heated national conversation about introducing armed security in more schools.
At the National Rifle Association’s first press conference after the shooting, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said the solution to making students safe is not an increase in gun regulation, but more guns in the hands of the “good guys.”
“If we have a police officer in that school, a good guy, that if some horrible monster tries to do something, will be there to protect them," he said.
A police presence in school, especially in urban areas, has been something that students like Wilson have been accustomed to for nearly two decades.
But as many school experts and civil libertarians work to reduce police presence in big city schools, some worry that the Sandy Hook tragedy will make other small town districts catch up to their urban counterparts.
Students in Marlboro Township, N.J., returned from Christmas break to find armed police officers at their school. Police officers were present during arrival and dismissal times at each public and private school, the first school district in the country to take that step. Totowa School District in Passaic County, N.J., followed suit.
These aren’t the only school districts working to heighten security.
Armed police officers are posted at schools in Greeneville, Tenn. In Utah, teachers received weapons training, and last week, a local council in the New York borough of Staten Island passed an historic, and largely symbolic, vote recommending retired cops serve as armed security in its schools.
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