Bill supports armed officers in schools

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Following this month’s deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida, we’ve seen an increased call for local school security.

Green Bay's police chief proposed putting armed guards in all upper elementary and high schools in the district.

Tuesday it received a public show of support from the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and state lawmakers, working for a permanent solution.

“We were outraged. When this happened, we were literally outraged. Drafted the legislation immediately, and put it on the floor,” says Rep. John Macco, (R -Ledgeview).

That’s in reference to a bill already passed by the Wisconsin State Assembly and is now headed to the Senate. That bill would provide grants to the school district specifically to hire armed school safety officers.

The district could receive the grant for up to three years: first covering 75 percent of the armed guard’s security, then 50 percent, and lastly 25 percent of the salary as the years go on.

“This is about providing resources,” says Chief Deputy Todd Delain, Brown County Sheriff’s Office. “It's about providing options and coming up with ways to make things better and safer for our children.”

The armed guard would be different than a school resource officer, something many schools already have.

“That school safety officer, in my plan, has got one goal: keep your kids safe. Keep the bad guy from breaching the front door and getting into your school, and protecting our kids,” says Chief Andrew Smith, Green Bay Police Department.

The Green Bay Police Department, Brown County Sheriff’s Office and Rep. Macco all agree – saying an armed security guard is the best way to protect against an emergency.

“We want to look at the ways to heighten security, prevent these things from happening, and then unfortunately if that situation does occur, that we're in the best position possible to resolve it as quickly as we can,” says Chief Deputy Delain.

But officers say they will work with schools to determine what option works best for them.

“I'm the Chief of Police, and I've got some good ideas, but I'm not going to force my officers into somebody's school who doesn't want them there,” says Smith. “Certainly this is the school district's call. Ultimately they get to make the call, the parents get to make the call.”

Gov. Scott Walker weighed in on the issue during a visit to Green Bay on Tuesday.

"We need to make sure our schools are safe, just like we did with our airlines after 9/11. There should not be any student, any parent, and teacher in this state that should ever have to worry about their school being safe," the governor said.

Green Bay officials say two forums to discuss the armed officers are now scheduled for parents and district staff.

The first will be held on Saturday March 10 from 10:00 a.m. to noon at Preble High School. The second will be held on Monday April 16 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at West High School.

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