Faulkner County Sheriff Andy Shock says a plan he has initiated, which would allow an avenue for Faulkner County schools to arm its administrators, would not be taken lightly if school districts decide to implement it.
Shock said he has heard some criticism that implicates his plan would loosely place weapons into the hands of school administrators. Shock said those implications of his plan are false.
The 110-hour training program Shock has proposed would put school administrators through what Shock says is the same certified law enforcement program that volunteer reserve deputies are required to complete.
“Each administrator that is put through our training will not necessarily finish and be allowed to carry,” Shock said. “They will be interviewed, and if during the training we think they don’t have what it takes, we reserve the right to pull them out of the training.
“Some people don’t have what it takes to carry in those situations, it’s not for everybody.”
Shock said his office would be under “strict scrutiny for liability,” and for that reason he reserves the right to be “picky” in the selection process.
Shock also stated that the final decision on whether his plan will be implemented rests with the local school districts.
“When meeting with the administrators, I stressed I’m not trying to make them do this,” Shock said. “I’m not pressuring them. This is just an option.
“I’m all about local decision-making,” he said. “I told the administrators that if your school board can get with its constituents and everyone wants to go this way, I’m going to do all I can to make it happen.”
The plan was first discussed with Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland after Shock won the November sheriff election.
Hiland said the sheriff’s plan is available to those schools who think it fits their needs.
“It’s our job to protect our kids,” Hiland said. “We’re not going to sit idly by when there is something we can do.
“Arming administrators was something that 10 years ago was unfathomable, but I think these are extraordinary measures for extraordinarily dangerous times.”
Some issues that have been raised by county superintendents deal with the responsibilities and requirements that would be expected of administrators after completing the training. Those issues include whether or not those administrators would then be required to wear a badge while on school grounds, and also whether or not administrators would be required to complete duties each month with the sheriff’s office.
Shock said those issues will need to be addressed as talks progress.
“There’s still a lot of discussion that needs to go on,” he said. “This is an idea I wanted to throw out there to get the idea in the heads of administrators.”
Although questions still need to be answered, Shock said he felt starting the discussion of his plan was the right thing to do at this time.
“If a tragedy happened (at one of our schools), and I had not brought this plan up, I would always think, “What if I had followed through?’” Shock said. “Maybe it wouldn’t have happened.”
Shock is scheduled to discuss his plan with the Mt. Vernon-Enola School Board at its meeting Thursday.
(Staff writer Lee Hogan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1246. Follow Lee Hogan on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LCD_LeeHogan. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)