Education: K-12 / Physical Security

Arkansas School District Training Teachers and Staff as Armed Security Officers

July 30, 2013
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One Arkansas school district is training 20 district employees and allowing them to carry concealed weapons on campus.

After undergoing 53 hours of training, the teachers, administrators and other employees will be considered guards in Clarksville, a community of 9,200 people about 100 miles northwest of Little Rock. 

State officials aren't blocking Clarksville's plan, said Fox News, but Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell is opposed to the idea of arming teachers and staff. He prefers to hire law enforcement officers. 

"The plan we've been given in the past is 'Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best,'" Superintendent David Hopkins said. But as deadly incidents continued to happen in schools, he explained, the district decided, "That's not a plan."

Hopkins said he and other school leaders didn't see why the district couldn't rely on its own staff and teachers to protect students rather than hire someone, said NBC News.

"We're not tying our money up in a guard 24/7 that we won't have to have unless something happens. We've got these people who are already hired and using them in other areas," Hopkins said. "Hopefully we'll never have to use them as a security guard."

Participants in the program are given a one-time $1,100 stipend to purchase a handgun and holster. Hopkins said the district is paying about $50,000 for ammunition and for training by Nighthawk Custom Training Academy, a private training facility in northwest Arkansas.

The Nighthawk training includes drills like the one Dougan participated in, with various role-playing scenarios involving shooters on campus. Dougan and other teachers in the program practiced using "airsoft" pellet guns, with students wearing protective facemasks and jackets, said NBC.

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