CLARKSVILLE, Ark. — It’s been one week since a shooter opened fire in a Texas school killing more than 20 students and staff members. Now, school safety is top of mind for everyone.
5NEWS went to Clarksville Tuesday, May 31, where the district has staff members in each school who are trained to carry guns.
Clarksville superintendent, David Hopkins says it was after the Sandy Hook school shooting almost a decade ago that they knew they needed to do more to keep their students safe.
With state legislation and school board approval, the district was able to implement the commissioned school security program in 2013. They were one of the first districts to implement armed faculty and staff.
“The people we’ve selected to help us with this program have been really great people. They are intelligent, educated and they do well with training. I think we have a great model,” he said.
The district has around 20 staff members across their five campuses who conceal carry guns including Superintendent Hopkins. They also have one school resource officer for all their campuses. He says locally, the program has been well received and supported.
“In order to provide multiple people in each building that are armed and that are always going to be there, that redundancy is built into it, I feel like that you have to go out to your staff for that, just given the cost of having that many armed personnel on a campus,” he said.
Those staff members train multiple times a year with range training and active shooter response training. Today, those staff members were having their active shooter response training by SRTS, INC. led by Joshua McMillian. He says the training these staff members are getting is the same training as law enforcement officers receive across our state.
“When an officer responds and they meet up with a school security professional they are on the same page with their tactics, their response and that school security official is actually taught to let law enforcement lead the way when they arrive on scene and act as what we call a force multiplier to give assistance as needed in that situation,” he said.
Superintendent Hopkins says the reality is there will be more school shootings and he believes the best response is always having multiple trained and armed people in each school building.
“What we have to do and what every school district has to do, is self-examine and determine are they prepared, are they ready for something like that. It’s a tragic situation and it’s horrible to even get your mindset to even think about those things that occur but we have to. They are occurring and we have to react and respond,” said Hopkins.
Kate Fletcher with the Arkansas Chapter of Moms Demand Action released the following response to having guns on school campuses…
“Too often, lawmakers try to solve gun violence by adding more guns to the equation. But we know that if more guns made us safer, this would be the safest country in the world, and that’s just not the case. Rather than arming kindergarten teachers and leaving them to fend for their classrooms, lawmakers must take action to stop the shooting before it starts. While no single policy alone can solve this epidemic of violence, policymakers can help reduce unauthorized access to deadly weapons by requiring background checks on all gun sales and secure firearm storage, prohibiting assault weapons, raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm, and passing an Extreme Risk law, among other things — all of which are key to reducing school shootings and gun violence on the whole,” said Fletcher.
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