Kansas sheriff proposes arming teachers

Posted at 3:15 PM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 17:21:24-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A rural Kansas sheriff wants to deputize school employees to respond to shootings.

In a 1,700-word post, Jackson County, Kansas Sheriff Tim Morse said the time had come to do something to make schools safer.

About 13,000 people live in the county, which is about an hour north of Topeka.

“Why have we taken so long in this nation to protect our greatest treasures, our children?” Morse wrote in the release. “While politicians continue to fight and activists feud with each other, it only wastes time and delays our schools from being secure.”

In his proposal, school personnel could apply to be a School Protection Special Deputy through a School Defender Initiative Program.

Morse says those applying would be vetted to the same level as a full-time deputy and would undergo a background investigation, psychological testing, applicant testing and polygraphs.

The sheriff doesn’t believe that all teachers should be armed but would hope that others in a school building, including administrators, maintenance personnel or coaches could also apply to the program.

Once in the program, applicants would go through a 10-14 week training program covering weapon retention, constitutional issues, use of force, among others.

Despite being school district employees, the special deputies would act under the “legal umbrella” of the sheriff’s office when carrying a firearm.

Morse says the sheriff’s insurance company would cover the activities of the special deputies.

It’s unclear if individual school boards would need to approve the program.

Marcus Baltzell, spokesman for the Kansas National Education Association, said Morse's proposal is a well-intentioned effort to try to move the issue forward and make sure schools are safe.

Baltzell says however, that KNEA believes that trained law enforcement officers should be the ones to protect.

"Teachers are trained to be teachers," Baltzell told 41 Action News Friday afternoon. "We don't believe adding arms to schools is going to be the solution."

Baltzell hopes that Morse's proposal can help spur a conversation in the community about what steps to take, but ultimately believes it's up to the legislature to provide funding for school safety.