Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 27, 2013

Ind. sheriff leery of armed teachers


Kokomo Tribune

---- — INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A county sheriff told Indiana legislators he doesn’t believe school security would be improved by having teachers or principals carrying guns.

Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing told a legislative committee Tuesday about how his department worked with Terre Haute’s police department and school district officials to put people trained as police officers in all schools in the county after the deadly elementary school shooting last December in Newtown, Conn.

“I didn’t go to school to teach,” Ewing said. “I believe teachers and principals don’t need to be worried about doing my job.”

The committee is reviewing school safety issues after legislators earlier this year briefly considered a proposal that would’ve required all public schools to have a teacher or another employee carrying a gun during all school hours.

Under Vigo County’s program, the security officers are all former police officers, many retired, who now have full-time jobs with the school district to be the first line of defense in case of a violent attack, the Tribune-Star reported. The school district and city and county governments split the costs of the program, with the sheriff’s and police departments responsible for the law enforcement duties of each officer.

“The money is a tough thing, but I know we really believe this is a great model to follow, and I hope you all will find the funding for other communities to do this,” Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett said.

Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Terre Haute, said Vigo County’s plan was a good model for other communities.

“What Vigo County does won’t work everywhere, but we need to find out what can work and help communities make their schools safe for students and staff,” Morrison said.

Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, told The Times of Munster that he might support changing state law to give legal protection to a person who uses deadly force to prevent a school attack.

Mahan, a former Blackford County sheriff, said he doesn’t want the state to require armed personnel in every school.

Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, said he didn’t believe schools would be safer with people other than trained officers carrying guns and that he was glad to hear law-enforcement officials saying the same thing.

“The committee needs affirmation that it’s not a good idea to arm teachers or staff,” said Skinner, a retired high school teacher. “Unfortunately, there are communities around the state where people think it is a good idea to let teachers be armed.”