Illinois School Considers Making Administrators Armed Part-Time Cops
(PEORIA, Ill.) -- An Illinois school is considering making three school administrators part-time police officers, which would allow them to possess guns inside of the school.
The Washington Community High School's administrators and school board were meeting Monday night to discuss the proposal.
The idea was devised by Washington Police Chief Jim Kuchenbecker and School Superintendent Jim Dunnan after the Dec. 14 shooting at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 students and six staffers dead.
"We started talking about the tragedy at Sandy Hook and we talked about the six educators that stepped in and gave their lives to protect those children," Kuchenbecker told ABC News. "We looked at each other and said, 'What if?'"
They wondered if things could have been different if the faculty members had been armed. But Illinois is the only state with no conceal carry law.
The idea is to train three school administrators as restricted part-time Washington police officers who could possess a weapon only inside of the school. The staff members would undergo the same firearm training as all other police officers, which includes both classroom and practical training. They would have to demonstrate proficiency with firearms and go through a monthly qualification process.
They would only be able to be in possession and carry the weapon while on school property. The 1,200-student school is just outside of Peoria, Ill.
"After Sandy Hook, we said enough is enough and we've got to draw the line in the sand and explore whatever possibilities exist out here to protect your kids and staff," he said. "At the end of the day, our obligation is to protect the children and faculty and staff."
The proposal was planned to be up for discussion Monday night at a meeting with the district's Parent Community Advisory Council, a 10-member group that advises the school board.
"As much as I hate that we have to have this even as a discussion item, I feel that I have no choice but to support it," Council President Kim Brownfield told ABC News.
Schools in the town have long had an armed officer on campus, but Brownfield says that "does not suffice."
"These [shootings] are happening and we all hate it, but you cannot stop an intruder who forces [his way] through the front of a school building unless you're going to stop him from within," she said.
Brownfield said she has heard equally positive and negative feedback about the proposal.
"This is a very sensitive issue and the passions are going to run and the emotions will run high on both sides and we understand that," he said. "But it would be irresponsible of us collectively if we didn't explore the possibilities."
Kuchenbecker said he has heard predominantly supportive feedback, but has seen online detractors calling it "absurd," "ridiculous" and a "knee-jerk reaction." He insists that it is none of these things.
"Aside from the home, in the arms of a mom or a dad, one of the next safest places for a child should be the classroom or the school and unfortunately we're seeing that that isn't always the case," he said. "We want to be proactive. Too many times we are reactive."
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