BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Following the school shooting earlier this week in Oxford Township, Mich., some parents in Bloomington are calling on the Monroe Community School Corporation to once again allow school resource officers to carry guns.
The corporation’s board of trustees voted in May to change the district’s policy to eliminate their officer’s permission to carry a weapon on school property.
Making students feel welcome when they walk in to school was a key reason some board members cited for their vote to disarm the school resource officers.
“The kids are our most precious gift and to send your most precious gift to a situation where you don’t know if they are going to come home — not a good feeling,” parent Maria Douglas said.
Douglas and fellow parent Elizabeth Bullock have been leading the effort to allow school resources officers to carry guns once again.
“We have an opportunity to have a trained law-enforcement officer who can respond with a firearm to a fire arm incident in the school,” Bullock said. “That of course is going to be our preference.”
Both Bullock and Douglas said the shooting in Michigan as well as recent incidents at Bloomington South High School make their mission all that more important.
On September 30, a loaded 9mm handgun was found in a student’s backpack at the school. A few weeks later on October 15, Bloomington police were called to the school on a report of a student with a handgun. Officers determined the gun was actually an airsoft with the orange tip painted black.
“The two incidents and then this Michigan thing we are saying ‘see,’“ Douglas said. “This could be us. This could be us, it will be us someday if we don’t do anything about it.”
The Indiana School Resource Officers Association opposed the measure when it was passed and is still actively working to get the district to reverse its policy.
“There are escalating acts of violence occurring all across the country,” the association’s president, Chief Chase Lyday, said. “School resource officers that have relationships with the students in their schools, that have the equipment needed to stop those events are the best tool that we have to keep schools safe”
Lyday says to his knowledge the Monroe Community School Corporation is the first district to adopt this type of policy.
“If the school district has someone in the building that’s not armed they are not a school resource officer. They are security guards” Lyday said. “They might have intentions of doing some of the same things that school resource officers do but if there are not a sworn law-enforcement officer who is properly equipped to do that job they are not a school resource officer.”
Lyday says his attempts to start a dialogue with the district’s board of trustees have been unsuccessful. The parents say the same thing.
Both said that while they understand this is not the answer to the whole problem, it will give parents peace of mind that their students are safe at school.
“I think we have a unique opportunity for prevention but no one wants to do that,” Bullock said.
“What we want is action now so we have something to rely on that our kids are going to be safe in school,” Douglas said. “We understand it’s not just one thing there’s not one answer but we need something immediate.“
We reached out to both the the Monroe Community School Corporation and the board of trustees.
The corporation was working on a response.
The board has not responded to our request for comment.