Brown County: planning ahead for armed guards in schools

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BROWN CO., Wis. (WBAY) - Officials in Brown County are working out issues and putting the plans into place that come with having an armed guard or retired cop in schools.

On Wednesday’s Brown County Public Safety Committee meeting, Supervisor Patrick Buckley, Brown County, District 11 said, "It sounds like a great idea. But what do we have to do to accomplish that? There's a lot of things to consider. Not just their wages but how does it affect their retirement, who is going to train them, who is responsible for them? Who is actually going to supervise them? So a lot of those things could be vetted out as well as what's these schools appetite for having this done?”

Following the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida, it's been proposed that retired law enforcement act as armed guards in our local schools. It’s unclear where local school officials officially stand on the idea right now, said Buckley. But he wants to make plans to show schools what it would look like.

"To my knowledge, nobody's really gotten in-depth on how we'd actually accomplish it, and I think as the time ticks away and god forbid something would happen in the future, if we haven't even looked at logistically how we would do this, you know that's on us."

There are issues to consider. First, the limitations as to how much work a retired officer can do: hey can only work up to 1200 hours a year before their pension would be affected.

Second, there are grants available to pay for the position now, but what happens after that? As Action 2 News reported last month, a bill to bring armed guards to state schools already passed the state assembly and is now headed to the senate. It provides grant money to help pay for the positions for the next three years. “Once that's been determined, then it's going to be up to the school districts I believe to fund it, as well as dictate how they want that security to be administered,” said Brown County Sheriff John Gossage.

Third, Gossage says he would need to make sure the armed guard isn't doing odd jobs that don't concern school security—such as dealing with truancy, parking issues or lunchroom duty—which has been a problem in the past with, for example D.A.R.E. officers who work in schools. “They don't need to be doing ancillary duties. Their job is security. It's to be looking for threats. It's to be looking for those specific incidents. And we've seen in the past where if we do go to a situation, sometimes that can-- you can be detracted,” said Gossage.

The sheriff says he's following the directive of each school district's own plan.

Buckley is requesting that the sheriff create the plans and present them to schools.

"Now if the school districts choose not to do it, that's really hard for us to control. But I think the public's going to have something to say about it as well,” said Buckley.