KCPS decides to keep elementary school security officers unarmed

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 7:18 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The parent-run District Advisory Committee (DAC) and other groups have advised the Kansas City Public School District and its board that the security officers in the Kansas City Public School District’s elementary schools should remain unarmed.

That is not the case for high schools where security officers and school resource officers (SROs) are already armed and continue to monitor all KCPS schools.

Manny Clark, the chair of the committee, agrees with having unarmed SROs.

“The concept of having armed guards there just isn’t necessary at this very moment,” Clark said. “That being said, I mean, it’s a possibility that it’s something that we could revisit down the road.”

DAC prides itself on providing a bridge between school administration and the school district’s parents. Any decision made by the committee is ultimately voted on by the school board before it becomes a policy within the district which makes the ultimate decision.

Jasmine Bray’s son attends AC Prep, and she questions the committee’s decision to have unarmed officers.

“So many schools are getting shot up, and people are not reacting fast enough,” Bray said. “Use every avenue we have before you need to pull out a gun, but as far as it goes to intruders and protecting our schools, I think we need them.”

John Douglass is a former Overland Park Police Chief. He oversaw SROs while he was the director of safety and security for the Shawnee Mission School District.

“You have to weigh out the community norms, and you have to weigh out the community threats,” Douglass said. “High school represents a much larger threat and many more problems than an elementary school. So you tailor make or strategically make your security plan based upon your risk analysis of that location and what your community wants to get out of it.”

KCPS provided KCTV5 with the statement below regarding elementary school security officers carrying guns.

Kansas City Public Schools has for decades employed armed Security officers at the secondary school level. These site-based officers are sworn officers licensed through the Kansas City Police Department, and they complete over 60 hours of peace officer standards and training each year, which is more than most law enforcement agencies. KCPS also employs patrol officers who are armed and can be dispatched to respond quickly to an emergency at any school. KCPS site-based and patrol officers are separate from our School Resource Officers, who are KCPD officers assigned to several KCPS high schools.

Beginning in the spring of 2023, in response to the rise in mass shootings happening across the country, Kansas City Public Schools began exploring the idea of hiring armed KCPS Security personnel at the elementary school level as a means of positioning ourselves to be bettered prepared in the event of a crisis. After thorough examination of our options and positive conversations with KCPS families, we have decided not to move forward at this time with placing armed officers in our elementary schools.

We want to thank the many community members who came out to various meetings to hear the options and give their thoughts. Your feedback is valuable to us, and we hear you. This decision does not, in any way, sway us from continuing to evaluate and enhance our safety and security measures. The safety and well-being of our students and staff continues to be our top priority.

We look forward to continuing conversations with the community on how best to serve our children academically and otherwise.

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