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Kansas City Public Schools, families discuss adding armed security guards to elementary schools

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Posted at 9:37 PM, Oct 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-24 23:08:27-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Born out of the Kansas City Public Schools Blueprint 2030 plan passed in January was the Moving Forward Together initiative.

VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Megan Abundis

It’s an effort to engage the KCPS community in what’s happening in the district, to build trust, work toward solutions, and accomplish them.

Now, they are looking for their community's perspective on one topic — adding armed security guards to elementary schools.

“Everyone has an opinion, and we want to hear absolutely all of them; we are going to leave space for push-back, for challenge, and questions," said Nicole Collier White, chief communications and community engagement officer for KCPS.

Armed security guards are already in KCPS' high schools and middle schools, as well as in Fort Osage, North Kansas City, Lawrence, and Liberty schools, among many others.

“We are focused on safety, and the topic is, as you are well aware, armed officers in our schools,” said Dr. Jennifer Collier, superintendent for KCPS.

At school dismissal, elementary students are watched over closely, but adding another adult who’s armed is up for discussion.

KCPS invited staff and parents to hear their feedback on armed security guards in elementary schools during a meeting last week.

“It is important [for] students' parents and staff to feel safe daily,” one KCPS staff member said at the meeting.

No decision on the issue was made at the meeting; rather, they gathered to discuss being prepared for active shooter situations and response times from the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.

“KCPS has security guards, a very capable security department; if you call them directly, they can get there quicker; actually, their mobile patrols in 5-10 minutes, depending on the location,” said Vaughn Baker, with Stratego.

Baker was there to give a presentation on behalf of the security company.

One question Baker asked families and district officials was related to what level of threat would prompt the district to have on-scene capability.

Some expressed apprehension, others pushed for due diligence.

“Officers in schools make kids feel unsafe and more likely to be criminalized,” one parent said.

“What is the role of that officer? It is not to police students,” another parent said.

Another parent said, “It protects our kids; our neighborhoods are really dangerous, I would say nowadays. If we could have extra security protecting our kiddies leaving the school, I think it sounds like a great idea."

On Tuesday, KSHB 41's Megan Abundis asked parents at Whittier Elementary School about armed security inside the schools.

Just two weeks ago, five people were shot feet away from the school while students were still inside.

“When I heard the shots, it felt like it was on my block," said Raul Aleman, whose child attends Whittier. "I think adding armed guards would be a little bit better because anybody out here could have a gun."

Steve Starcher also has children in the school and also likes the idea of armed security guards.

“When I was a kid, I didn’t have anything like that — armed security guards in schools — but now, with school shootings on the rise, it would not hurt to have armed security guards at all," Starcher said.

KCPS says these conversations started because of the increase in school shootings, and it plans to keep talking about it with parents.

A KCPS school district representative said security personnel are sworn officers licensed through the KCPD; the officers complete over 60 hours of peace officer standards and training each year.

These officers, though, are separate from School Resource Officers, who are armed KCPD officers assigned to the schools.

KCPS security are generally unarmed when they are at their on-site assigned schools.

Still, KCPS said it does have armed security officers who are on patrol and can respond quickly to emergencies. To learn more about KCPS security click this link.