Armed guards will soon patrol schools in Emporia

EMPORIA, Kan. - School security guards in Emporia, Kan., will soon add firearms to their uniforms.

On Wednesday, the school district's Board of Education voted to allow the security guards to carry guns while on duty.

The district currently has two full-time security guards and one part-time guard. The full-time guards work at the middle school and high school. 

"As a retired police officer, I'm use to carrying a gun," said Jeff Illk, a guard at the high school. "I think it's a great idea."

Andy Koenigs, associate superintendent, said the district started reevaluating its safety plan back in September. At that time, they proposed a policy change to the school board to allow security guards to carry weapons. 

He said the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting expedited plans that were already in the works.

"With the policy change, we have changed the requirements for being a security guard. Our guards must have a  law enforcement back ground," Illk said.

Emporia's armed school security guards are now required to have law enforcement experience, be certified with 70 percent target practice accuracy, maintain 20 hours of law enforcement training yearly and follow legal "use of force" protocol.

None of those requirements are a problem for Illk.

"I was a military police officer in the army for three years, and served on the Emporia Police Department for nearly 28 years," he said. "I already meet or exceed these requirements."

The district security officers will begin carrying guns Feb. 1.

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