Missouri schools arm staff members

Special Report - Arming School Staff

WEST PLAINS, Mo. - Some school districts across the country are turning to guns in the classroom to protect kids.

With the upcoming two year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting in which 26 people died, school shootings continue to scare parents and prompt changes in school security.

According to the Justice Center, last year alone, 33 states introduced more than 80 bills aimed at arming teachers and school administrators.

While Missouri works through a new law creating school protection officers, arming staff has already been legal in the state.

School districts are heading down to the southern part of the state for training on using deadly weapons in schools.

Greg Martin, CEO of Shield Solutions, specializes in business and school security.

A couple of years back, Fairview School in West Plains asked Martin to come up with a program to arm some staff members.

ABC 17 News went along for a training session in which staff from multiple districts were present.

In the training session, a loud speaker blares the sound of children screaming while an instructor stands alongside putting on the pressure yelling out, "The longer it takes you the more people die."

Martin says they try to induce stress on those in the program creating an environment they may be in.

Aaron Sydow, an administrator at Fairview a K-eighth grade school in West Plains, says a large motivator for arming staff was Sandy Hook.

Sydow says the plan came from the board and concerns about the board being in a rural area- the school does not have school resource officers, and local law enforcement estimates that if they were sitting in their cars it could be 8 to 10 minutes before they get to the schools, at best case.

Under current state law, school boards have the authority to allow the carrying of concealed weapons on school grounds and that's the route schools working with Martin are taking including Climax Springs in Camden County.

At Shield Solutions they created a program for schools choosing to arm staff.

The trainees become dual employees of the school district and Shield Solutions, which covers them with liability insurance.

Before training starts there is a criminal background check, a mental assessment and drug test. Next, participants go through a 40-hour training course in which instructors start with the basics, teaching them how to hold a weapon. They then workup to stress combat courses.

Drug tests are done periodically and mental assessments are done yearly. The first year in the program people qualify four times. After that, it's three times a year.

They do not reveal the identities of those in the program comparing it to an air marshal program with the idea that at any moment there could very likely be someone armed and charged with security.

Most parents at Fairview in West Plains understand people may think arming staff is crazy, but many feel comfortable because it works for them.

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