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.