Local man pushes plan for armed defense teams at Clark County schools

A Clark County man wants his school district to consider armed defense teams to prevent a mass shooting, similar to a plan in place at Sidney City Schools.

Sam George has talked at several Tecumseh Local School Board meetings about bringing armed teams to the district, but some school board members and law enforcement leaders have concerns about the proposal.

“With all the shootings that we’ve had in schools, we haven’t changed,” George said. “We haven’t come up with any new plans.”

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His plan calls for a full-time resource officer in each building, he said, plus a group of volunteer staff members trained to use guns stored in a safe at the school an emergency.

The staff members would train once a month in the building, George said, or go to a shooting range. Guns would be kept in bio-metric safes that can only be opened with fingerprint identification, he said, and staff would wear bullet proof vests during an emergency to mark themselves to law enforcement.

“It all falls back to the proper training,” he said.

Tecumseh had three reports of bomb threats within three weeks this spring. The threats were found to be hoaxes, but all had a large response by local law enforcement.

Sidney City School’s armed defense teams have been up and running for about three years. They were formed after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 when 26 students, teachers and school personnel were killed by a gunman.

In Southwest Ohio, a 14-year-old boy has been charged with four counts of attempted murder related to a shooting at Madison High School in Butler County in February. The boy is accused of bringing a gun to school, injuring two kids and two others. A school resource officer was working at the school at the time of the shooting.

The armed defense team plan doesn’t seem feasible to Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly. Clark County currently has two educational service officers, he said, and will add a third at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. The officers rotate between all Clark County schools outside the city of Springfield.

But schools need an officer in the building at all times, George said.

“If somebody’s going to do something to the schools or try to do harm to our students, they’re going to try to do it when a resource officer is not there,” he said.

Sidney schools use retired officers who have been deputized by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. But it may be difficult to find enough retired officers in Clark County to fill that role here, Kelly said.

District board members have some concerns with the plan, Board Member Peter Scarff said.

“You put loaded guns inside school buildings, that’s a concern,” Scarff said. “My biggest concern is what our parents and what our teachers are going to think about the idea.”

At this point, George’s plan is only a discussion, Scarff said, and the board has no immediate plans to move forward with creating an armed defense team.

“I will press this until the school board says either yes or no,” George said.

For him, the issue is about protecting the district’s children.

“We as adults are responsible to make sure our kids are protected.”

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