No parent ever wants to see the awful images of the Columbine High School or Sandy Hook Elementary mass shootings at their child's school.
Since then, districts across the country have been taking steps to prepare for the worst-case scenario. The Kansas City, KS, School District is also making a bold move that starts with its own police department.
Schools in the KCK school district already have locked doors and some have cameras and metal detectors and even armed police officers. Officer Elaine Moore is one of many assigned school resource officers keeping a close eye on who's coming and going within the school.
"Way before Sandy Hook, Columbine still sticks with us and that's really why KCK came up with the SRO [School Resource Officer] program. It's to put officers in the schools to prevent - of course only one person - but just to try and prevent that type of violence," Moore said.
The district also has 28 security guards working in their schools.
But the school board voted two months ago to enhance their security by starting its own police department, meaning the security officers will now have to go through training to become armed police officers who can open fire if there is ever an attack in their building.
"It's providing that kind of safety if need be. We hope to goodness that never happens. Unfortunately, because of those types of incidents that continue to happen that have raised level of concern across the country," said Dr. Kelli Mather, the chief financial officer for the KCK public schools.
Mather said the current security officers who chose to stay with the district will go through an intense 14-week training program in Hutchinson, KS, at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center.
"We feel if we send someone, we know they are trained in how to use weapons, they know when and how to make appropriate decisions in difficult situations that seems more appropriate than just sending someone to get a certified on a weapon," she said.
Mather said the newly trained officers will continue to work side-by-side with the current KCK police SROs with the important task of protecting everyone's children.
"I consider all these kids my kids regardless of who they are. I'm responsible for every kid in this building and I take it very seriously," Moore said.
The district estimates it will cost them an additional $300,000 a year for its police force to pay for the training and new equipment, plus raises for the security officers who become law enforcement officers.
District officials hope by Nov. 1 they can begin having some of their security guards go through the 14-week training program. They are also starting the interview process now for who will become their chief of police.
Three other schools districts in the state - Blue Valley, Shawnee Mission and Topeka - all have their own police force.
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Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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