Officers say armed police in every school would be costly

By: Jenny You Email
By: Jenny You Email

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- After a week of silence, the National Rifle Association came out Friday to react to last week's deadly school shooting.

NRA CEO Wayne Lapierre held a news conference in Washington, DC.

He said last Friday’s shootings were tragic and blamed lack of government action and media outlets for the rising rate of gun violence in this country.

He also said his organization will fund a committee to look into the possibility of posting armed guards at all of the nation's schools.

"The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun,” said Lapierre.

Law enforcement leaders agree that something must be done to stop the violence. But is the NRA’s solution of putting an armed officer in every school viable?

The sound of it may be alarming to some parents, but most schools already do it, like at Central High School in La Crosse.

They have a student resource officer, much like other schools within the La Crosse School District.

“I think with an SRO in the school, I think as far as violence I think it’s a deterrent not only from the concerns of people from the outside coming in but also the kids in school,” said Officer Rick Pfennig with the La Crosse Police Department. He’s been Central’s school resource officer for around eight years.

But the cost of a school resource officer can be pricey.

“La Crosse County alone has over 30 schools, public schools and if we start including private schools, daycare centers that our children are at, it’s going to be very costly,” said chief deputy Jeff Wolf with La Crosse County Sheriff’s Department. “I don’t know if having every school (have an armed officer) is going to be a solution, it might be a deterrent in some ways.”

To save on money the NRA proposed having trained and certified volunteers do the job.

“Volunteers are a good idea. Former law enforcement officers whatever it may be, we need to come up with some type of solution so that it doesn’t happen in our community as well,” said Wolf.

But volunteer officers can potentially lead to more problems.

“Yes you’re there to help and you’re putting yourself out there but on the other end of the spectrum, it’s the liability,” said Pfennig.

One of the other issues is mental health and how it must be brought to light, said Wolf.

“I think we also need to look at the mental health situation in our country and try to come up with some type of solution for these individuals doing these acts,” said Wolf.

And there are also talks of the ease and accessibility of automatic rifles.

“Even folks out there with mental health issues, what is the answer to being able to avoid people getting their hands on them,” said Pfennig. “I don’t know that but this is a sad situation where that happened to be the case, where he was having some issues, and was able to get his hands on his mom’s weapons.”

Discussion continues on having teachers carry fire arms in the case of an unwanted intruder inside a classroom. But that’s a topic that needs more discussion, said Wolf.

“It’s been talked about for several years, I think even since Columbine, about arming teachers or staff personnel. I don’t know if that’s an option. The people in the education community need to get together and talk and see if that’s even a possibility,” said Wolf.

Pfennig said automatic rifles should be harder to obtain by the public and schools need to improve on their security system if possible.

“The school district working with the police departments, police department having accessibility to the security systems at the school is another big plus,” said Pfennig.

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