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NLRSD proposes armed security for upcoming school year in new safety plan

School leaders at the North Little Rock School District have proposed hiring armed security officers for the upcoming school year.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark — North Little Rock School District (NLSRD) has been working on a new safety and security plan for months, according to superintendent, Dr. Gregory Pilewski.

District leaders said that this specific plan will work as an enhancement of their previous one. 

This is an aspiration for Pilewski, as well as  the school's new Director of Safety Services, Hayward Finks. 

Both have said the district's aiming to upgrade security protocols that align with national safety recommendations for best practices in schools.

"Chief [Finks] and I have been working on this since his arrival. That was back in February so for the past four months," Pilewski said. "Prior to the Uvalde shooting we were already moving in this direction, but it has certainly enhanced with the support of our board."

As for the reorganized plan, here's a look at what the specifics could consist of: 

  • 11 armed school security officers at the nine elementary campuses, Pike View Early Childhood Center, and North Little Rock Academy.
  • 27 unarmed security officers in partnership with armed school resource officers from the North Little Rock Police Department at the Center of Excellence, North Little Rock High School, North Little Rock Middle School's 6th, 7th and 8th grade campus.
  • 1 security captain and 2 security sergeants to provide supervision and accountability throughout the Safety Services Department.

If approved, there will be enhanced security measures during extracurricular events and other special events that are sponsored by the school district. 

Additionally, 3 people will oversee the digital safety, which consists of things such as security cameras, alarms, and badge access. There will also be threat assessment teams at each campus and in Central Offices. 

"I have heard that there's some parents that might be concerned that there's now an armed component at each one of our elementary schools," said Pilewski. "However, we've had school resource officers. They were just not assigned or there every single day." 

It's a plan that school leaders like Finks are in favor of, as he said it would help NLRSD reach a national level of recommended education safety. 

"Every armed security officer in the school will work and train with the North Little Rock Police Department, as far as responding to active shooter events. Nationally, best practice is [that] we do not wait to stop a threat," said Finks.

He said the security will be trained to go to that threat and stop it to ensure that lives are saved. 

Alongside that, comes a new technology pilot program, which Finks said will help detect weapons that go into the high schools. That same detection system will be in place on the first day of school. 

"The system's called 'Open Gate,' it's the latest technology-- it's like a metal detector on steroids. Students won't have to have bags or pockets checked. It'll allow them to come through quickly and the system will detect weapons on someone," said Finks.

He said they wanted to make sure they utilize every possible measure to ensure school environments are as safe as possible. 

"Having a school-aged child myself, I know how important it is that when a parent drops their child off at school in the morning they know that that child is going to be safe," said Finks.

As for Pilewski, he said their plan would either meet or even exceed the recommendation from the Arkansas School Safety Commission.

They presented the plan to the school board last week and even met with their local CPCC, a policy group of classified licensed personnel on Monday. 

The policy group unanimously approved the plan, and now the district will be taking their final vote to the Board of Education on June 23 at 5:30 p.m.

With final approval, the Board of Education plans to invest more than $700K over a two-year period, which will fully implement the proposal.  

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