Kansas

Armed security guards at North Kansas City schools worry parents

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City-area school district is adding an extra layer of protection to its youngest students.

Starting next month, North Kansas City will have new armed security guards in its elementary schools.

But some parents are questioning the need for guns in schools — and the private security firm’s faith-based approach.

“I think I could pay for a lot of free and discounted lunches myself, so I’d rather see that funds that are available to the schools aren’t invested in militarized security,” said Dylan Pyles, who has two third-graders in the district.

Pyles said he was upset by the county’s decision to spend $2.7 million on 28 certified school protection officers.

“I’m also very concerned about the safety of my children,” Pyles said. “Personally, I don’t think armed law enforcement in schools makes schools or my children safer.”

A four-year study by the University at Albany and RAND shows that SROs are “effective in reducing some forms of violence in schools, but do not prevent school shootings or gun-related incidents,” the study said.

The North Kansas City School District said in a statement:

To improve security in all North Kansas City school buildings, the district is working to deploy 28 school safety officers in several schools. The Protection Officers will add another layer of security along with the 18 existing School Resource Officers and Officers (SRDs and SROs) dedicated to protecting students and staff. NKC schools’ top priority is to provide a safe learning environment for their more than 21,000 students.

NKC Schools is working with Strategos International, a nationally recognized safety training company, to staff all schools and buildings throughout the district with no full-time SRD. Currently, two SRDs or SROs are dedicated to each high school, one to each middle school, and four travel daily through our 22 elementary schools. The Protection Officers will extend our full-time security presence to all schools and district buildings.

The decision to seek protection specialists was made after careful consideration. Many parents expressed interest in more safety in and around schools. The district wanted to reduce the response times for schools in the event of an incident. With recent incidents of violence in schools across the country, the district saw an opportunity to improve security in all schools and buildings.

Rob McLees, Director of Safety and Security for NKC Schools, says: “In an emergency, every second counts. Immediate response is a critical factor in ensuring safety. With the addition of the protection officers on site, we can react better in an emergency.”

They ensure a visible presence upon arrival, discharge and throughout the day in the office. They will also participate in school drills and contingency planning, and regularly check doors and security procedures.

NKC Schools has an established partnership with Strategos which offers active marksmanship training for all employees. According to Strategos, “School Protection Officers are high caliber professionals who are vetted, drug tested and highly trained to provide both an armed deterrent and a de-escalation response to protect your community’s most important asset, the students and the staff who educate them.”

Protection officers go through a rigorous three-week training program from Strategos before being assigned to a school. The protection officers are also trained on an ongoing basis. The first class of 14 protection officers is expected to be deployed at the beginning of February. It is expected that all schools and buildings will be fully staffed with a full-time SRD, SRO or Conservation Officer by this spring.

Schools in Northern Kansas City

The security firm also wrote a faith-based blog titled What God’s Word Says About the Use of Force, which caught the attention of some parents.

“My kids’ school and North Kansa City as a school district are extremely diverse with countless different faiths and beliefs and types of people, and it scares me about the kind of environment these kids are going to live in now,” Pyles said.

FOX4 asked the district about the blog. We haven’t answered all of our questions.

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