ALBION, Ind. (WANE) - As schools across the country take closer looks at security procedures, the Noble County sheriff said arming select teachers and staff is one of the best solutions to stop and prevent a school shooting.
Thursday, NewsChannel 15 learned more about the sheriff's plan .
"They'd concealed carry. We would keep it very low key as far as who knows which teachers are armed in the school," Sheriff Doug Harp said.
The teachers and staff who are either selected or volunteer to become special deputies would go through training with the sheriff's department. They'd learn weapon safety, when and how to use force, ways to take a gun from someone else and how to keep their own weapon. There's also non-weapon tactical training. The courses they'd take are the same training classes law enforcement officers take.
"People who go through this training are highly educated, very motivated to do what's right for kids and will be very trainable," Chris Daughtry, the superintendent of Central Noble Community Schools, said. "The people I've talked to are interested because they think it's the right thing for kids."
Some parents told NewsChannel 15 while they might not be thrilled about the idea of teachers having guns, they support the sheriff's plan.
"No one likes to think about having our teachers armed," Harp said. "But, I think everybody realizes that the reality and the world we live in today, it's a necessary evil."
Harp said in a shooting situation, even a quick police response is still after the shooter's done a lot of damage. Having armed staff, he thinks, can lower fatalities. Even the idea of having teachers with guns inside, Harp hopes, could keep some shooters from forcing their way in.
"It's a preventative measure. If it comes to [a shooting], and we pray it doesn't, but if it does, they have the ability to defend themselves," Harp said.
The special deputies would carry small, concealed guns. They wouldn't be as large as the handguns you typically see on a police officer's hip. Harp said they'd keep the guns on their body the whole time they are in the school and would be trained to not leave the weapon where a student could access it.
Harp's spoken with the three school districts in the county and some private schools as well. He hopes to have a few special deputies in each school in the county. So far, only Central Noble's school board has approved moving forward with the plan.
"You try to add in as much security as you can, but realistically, locked doors can only do so much," Daughtry said. "Having this is a deterrent. We all wish there was a better answer, but at the end of the day, because of the type of people we've seen who perpetrate these attacks, meeting them with a threat usually ends the attack."
East Noble Schools Superintendent Ann Linson said she's still considering the idea.
"It's unfortunate we have to have the conversation," Linson said. "But, it is what it is. We want families to know that when they drop their child at school we've done everything we can to protect them. I still think they're safe [now], but I've also learned many years ago never say never and you always plan for the worst and make sure it never happens in our buildings."
West Noble Schools is also still considering Harp's proposal. Harp said some school board members wanted some administrators to go through the department's training to see what it entails before moving forward.
Harp said under a preliminary deal, the school corporations would pay for ammunition and the cost of the instructor. An East Noble board member offered to personally buy all the weapons if all the districts signed on, Harp said. The special deputies wouldn't get extra compensation.
The districts do already have School Resource Officers (SRO), who will often travel between buildings. But, Harp said that's not enough.
"Even with an SRO on the other end of the building, you can still have additional staff members who could confront someone," he said.
It's also not a realistic goal to have an SRO in every school or a metal detector in every school because of budgets.
While having armed teachers and staff in the schools could be part of a district's security plans, Harp and Daughtry both said other non-weapon-related measures are still in place and being practiced.
There's no timeline for when teachers could have concealed weapons, but some have already gone through initial training. Harp stressed that the department could reject teachers or staff if they don't think the individual is well-qualified to be a special deputy.
He also added that plans and procedures are in the works to make sure that any special deputies aren't mistaken for the shooter when police respond to a shooting situation, if one were to ever occur.
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