Rapid City lawmakers back bill to arm school employees

2013-01-18T07:00:00Z Rapid City lawmakers back bill to arm school employeesBob Mercer Legislative correspondent Rapid City Journal
January 18, 2013 7:00 am  • 

PIERRE | Many school districts in South Dakota already have resource officers in their buildings, including police officers in some communities.

Now, Rep. Scott Craig, R-Rapid City, has introduced a bill that would allow school boards to use armed "school sentinels" to protect students, staff and teachers from violent attacks.

Craig has enlisted some heavyweights to co-sponsor HB1087, including House Republican leader David Lust, House Speaker Brian Gosch and Sen. Craig Tieszen, a former Rapid City police chief. All are from Rapid City.

The legislation says school boards "may create, establish, and supervise the arming of school employees, hired security personnel or volunteers" to defend their schools "against violent attack by any terrorist, criminal, deranged person, or other perpetrator of deadly force."

State law now prohibits firearms, air guns and other dangerous weapons in schools and on school premises. The ban contains an exception for a law enforcement officer. In Rapid City, the police department and the Pennington County Sheriff's Office have armed officers working at various schools.

Other co-sponsors of Craig’s bill in the House are Republicans Jim Bolin of Canton, Chip Campbell of Rapid City, Scott Ecklund of Brandon, Leslie Heinemann of Flandreau, Steve Hickey of Sioux Falls, Don Kopp of Rapid City, Elizabeth May of Kyle, Betty Olson of Prairie City, Lee Qualm of Platte, Kyle Schoenfish of Scotland, Jacqueline Sly of Rapid City, Jim Stalzer of Sioux Falls, Manny Steele of Sioux Falls, Mike Verchio of Hill City and Hal Wick of Sioux Falls.

Other co-sponsors in the Senate are Democrat Jim Bradford of Pine Ridge and Republicans Tim Begalka of Clear Lake, Bob Ewing of Spearfish, Phil Jensen of Rapid City, Mark Kirkeby of Rapid City, Dan Lederman of Dakota Dunes, Ryan Maher of Isabel, Al Novstrup of Aberdeen, David Omdahl of Sioux Falls and Larry Rhoden of Union Center.

The bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee, which Sly chairs.

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(15) Comments

  1. rhondalayne
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    rhondalayne - January 18, 2013 5:37 pm
    The state or city school district cannot make this kind of decision in a vacuum. I don't think too many parents would have an issue of profession police protection at schools. Unfortunately, our society has made financial choices in the past which have left school nurses and liason officers covering numerous schools in a day or week.
    1) How will we pay for this professional service?
    2) The insurance coverage for "volunteers" alone would be prohibitive.
    3) This does not address one of the major issues. We have too many entrances in our schools which are too easily accessible. The principle offices are too far away from the main entrance in many schools.
    4) The teachers AND parents need to have input in this decision-making. WHAT are you going to do if a teacher does not want to have training and be responsible for a gun in the classroom?? WHAT are you going to do if a parent doesn't want their child in a room with a gun present??
    5) What if the threat comes from someone in the teacher's room itself? (i.e. teenager).

    It is not a good idea to institute broad ranging changes as a knee-jerk reaction to a horrible event, Think rationally. Guns are not always the answer, and yes, I am a responsible gun owner and a Dem.

  2. Black Hawk
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    Black Hawk - January 18, 2013 3:30 pm
    So do the teachers/janitors/whoever carry their weapon in sight? Do they hide it in their desk? Is it loaded? Is there a shell in the chamber? When the children see the buldge or spot it in the drawer, should they ask "What's that"? In a child's mind, if their teacher has a gun...shouldn't I be able to brig Dad's to school? There is a better chance for an accident than a heroic defense of the school. Let the police do their job and everyone else their's.
  3. Pookdad
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    Pookdad - January 18, 2013 2:59 pm
    Common sense says that small clips reduce the number of victims. If they have to reload it gives someone time to stop the shooter.
  4. ttpilot
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    ttpilot - January 18, 2013 1:12 pm
    Then I'm sure you're all for having your taxes raised to pay for this. Perhaps a 15% surcharge on firearms, ammunition, and reloading supplies?
  5. Frank Smith
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    Frank Smith - January 18, 2013 11:19 am
    What evidence do you have that "restricting clips to 10-12 rounds" reduces gun violence? Because I have volumes of data to prove just the opposite. How about we do something that actually works this time?
  6. Frank Smith
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    Frank Smith - January 18, 2013 11:18 am
    Perhaps you should resign now. You never know how many employees may carry a self defense weapon illegally knowing that they would rather be alive and breaking the law than dead and compliant. And when you make a blanket statement and say "they all agree" you have already lost the debate.
  7. Frank Smith
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    Frank Smith - January 18, 2013 11:14 am
    Nice. Perhaps a return to a little common sense is the way to go. Liberals do tend to destroy whatever they touch. Including society.
  8. Frank Smith
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    Frank Smith - January 18, 2013 11:12 am
    Hollywood actors send their kids to schools with armed security.

    Politicians send their kids to schools with armed security.

    Wealthy people send their kids to schools with armed security.

    Arline pilots don't need armed security ... they ARE the armed security.

    We guard our money, gold, silver, etc with armed security.

    It seems that people opposed to protecting our most valuable asset of all with armed security are doing so because of an irrational fear of ... armed security.

    As long as they are trained, regularly certified and pass background investigations and random drug screens, I could care less whether they are a volunteer or not. Let's do this thing.

  9. Pops
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    Pops - January 18, 2013 10:12 am
    Just because you are a "volunteer" does not mean you are not a law enforcement officer or a trained security officer It just means you are not being paid for your services. Given the vast amount of military personnel who live in the area, it would be a great resource to utilize these defenders of freedomif they wanted to "volunteer" their time to help protect children. Get off your high horse Rabbit, volunteer does not mean uneducated, or untrained. I'm sure there will be an appropriate screening process before anyone is able to volunteer.
  10. oldsarge
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    oldsarge - January 18, 2013 9:40 am
    Back to the wild west again. At least back then, you knew who was packing heat in order to stay clear of them. Those cwazy republicans should start to walk backwards permanently..
  11. Sans Bull
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    Sans Bull - January 18, 2013 9:37 am
    I am an educator in Rapid City - the same community that I grew up in. As a young person, I went on many hunting trips with family and friends. I understand the safety and responsibility of handling a gun. However, in speaking with my high school students, they all agree that more people with guns in schools WILL NOT make them feel safer! These are intelligent, top-notch students I'm speaking about here....not members of a paranoid society. I will also be the first to say, that if this passes and "school employees" are allowed to have guns in school - like teachers!? - I will be the first to resign from the profession I love so dearly. End of story.
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    GCHUNTER - January 18, 2013 8:44 am
    I am sure there would be prerequisites for to staff to be armed. I know a lot of police officers that have second jobs. And I am betting the staff in schools currently have their backgrounds checked more thoroughly than some police departments check their officers out. Check the backgrounds, evaluate personalities, train them, and arm them. I am happy to see SD making a move in the right direction.
  13. Pookdad
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    Pookdad - January 18, 2013 8:37 am
    Are we paying the professionals? Where is the money coming from? Sorry Jimmy we don't have math books today because we have to pay a sentinel. We don't need to over react and drain more money from school budgets for unneccessary expenses. I too would be a little worried about the volunteers. Better yet let's lock up our guns at home so our children with mental problems can't get them, and restict clips to 10 -12 rounds.
  14. ttpilot
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    ttpilot - January 18, 2013 7:31 am
    That's a downright stupid idea. What kind of message are these people trying to send to children. It won't make them feel safer to see Ms Jones up in front of them toting a .44 mag. While they're at it, maybe they could have the kiddies wear Kevlar vests instead of school uniforms
  15. RabbitEars
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    RabbitEars - January 18, 2013 7:23 am
    Trained police officers, yes. Trained school security, yes. "Volunteers", no.
    I am a school employee, professional in law enforcement and security would be welcome staff, what credentials would these "volunteers" have? I do not want to work in a setting where armed "volunteers" are providing security for my students and colleagues and myself.
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