After Parkland, parents push for school security upgrades
In Kentucky, parents have pooled money to pay an armed officer to begin patrolling schools. A mayor outside Cleveland, Ohio, is urging a security levy to pay for guards. And a town in New Jersey has begun assigning off-duty police to stand vigil inside all its school buildings.
In the jittery aftermath of the shooting in Parkland, Fla., novel efforts to ramp up school security are flying fast as districts across the United States respond to heightened fears as well as threats and rumors of violence that have only seemed to multiply since the latest tragedy.
American schools have been stepping up investment in security for years, and many districts have offered assurances about procedures already in place since the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 dead. But some parents are saying it’s just not enough.
In Monroe Township, N.J., 400 people crowded a meeting last week on school security, some rattled by rumors about an unsubstantiated threat online. The school system already has unarmed guards, but the mayor and police chief agreed to immediately assign armed, off-duty police officers to patrol each of the town’s eight schools. It’s expected to cost the town $200,000 for the first two months.
“As wonderful as our security team is, unarmed, you’re not going to fight an assault rifle,” Monroe parent Chrissy Skurbe said. “If somebody wants to get in with a gun, they’re going to get in. You need somebody there to be able to react.”
Officials and parents have also come ahead with plans to introduce security cameras, metal detectors, door locks and other defenses. President Donald Trump has endorsed fortifying schools, to make them less appealing targets, and he repeatedly suggested arming teachers.
In Kentucky, many were already on edge after a January shooting rampage that killed two students and injured 21 others at Marshall County High School. Since the Florida shooting, parents have been leading the way on fundraising efforts to boost security in local schools.
A week ago, an armed resource officer took up duty at a 670-student campus in Barbourville, paid by parent donations for at least the rest of the year. Barbourville Police Chief Winston Tye said it was a couple of parents who approached him with the idea and they’re working on raising money for next year.
“They said that would make their kids feel better, all the kids feel better, and make them feel better,” Tye said.