NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Former Clay County Sheriff Bob Boydston says the time to take action against school shootings is now and believes it will not stop without intentional prevention.
He attributes the continued increase of school mass shootings to five things: accessibility to guns, extreme protection of Second Amendment rights, lack of mental health resources, violent video games that normalize killing and and shortcomings of school security.
He took matters into his own hands in the '90s and partnered with the North Kansas City School District to place school resource deputies in middle and high schools.
“I knew that we were omitting a very important element of the school district and that was the elementary schools. We could never really come up with a good way to budget and put a fixed law enforcement position in those schools,” Boydston said.
But a few decades later, the program has grown since to meet the needs. This year the district has also added four officers to be stationed at elementary schools.
“We started off with one back in '98, and it was a mentorship program at Maple Park Middle School and we’re now at 19. Alongside, with our campus supervisor partners, which are multiple in each building,” the School Resource Unit’s Lieutenant Scott Archer said.
According to a recent FBI report, the number of “active shooter” incidents across the U.S. increased more than 50 percent in 2021 compared to 2020. There were 12 mass school shootings last year, which is defined as a single incident resulting in three or more fatalities.
While it is difficult to measure the success of a safety system, Archer strongly believes that a countless number of instances were avoided just by having law enforcement presence.
“I think this is probably one of the best ideas that schools can do,” Archer said. “If you’re looking at the psychology of it, I think just having patrol car in front of the building prevents even parents coming up and yelling at a principal.”
Boydston says it is time school districts across the country adopted this plan. He suggests applying a national one to three percent users fee every time a gun is purchased or used to help pay for various resources that need funding.
“And that tax should be used in states to help fund mental health concerns within that state and that state’s guidance and decision making," Boydston said. "That fund should also be used to pay retired law enforcement officer salaries who volunteer to work in elementary schools."