By Pilar Pedraza
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
7:33 PM CST, January 10, 2013
"After Sandy Hook, obviously, that was a huge indicator that we needed to review and evaluate what we're doing," said Debbie McKenna, Executive Director of School Safety with the Wichita School district.
Could that re-evaluation include guns for the security guards at Wichita Public Schools? Unlikely.
Starting next month security guards at Emporia Schools will have an extra tool, a gun. Wichita Schools have also been looking at what they can do to improve security. But there's one key difference between the two districts.
"Every single crisis is unique to itself," said McKenna about school safety.
And few schools face a crisis like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. But they have to think about how they would handle things if they did. Wichita parents have been thinking too.
"They have come up with some very creative ideas," said McKenna.
Some want Wichita Schools to go the way of Emporia and put guns in the hands of school security guards.
"We have explored the idea for years," said McKenna.
The difference? The guards in Emporia are retired police officers, with all the proper certifications and training. In Wichita, they're security guards.
"We're not authorized to be armed with guns," said McKenna. "But they do carry pepper spray."
Wichita Police say it's not up to them whether the district arms its guards, as long as they get the right training.
"At the end of the day it doesn't materially change how we're going to respond in a crisis event," said Lt. Doug Nolte with the Wichita Police Department.
Guns are banned in schools. But not everybody respects those signs. Which is why when police officers respond to a call, they have to act as if somebody has a weapon inside the school.
"Unfortunately, that's what we have to do. And we're always glad when, you know, that's not the case," said Nolte.
One thing both the police department and the school district would like to see? A return of school resource officers to area middle schools. But the money just isn't there.
"Budgets are a reality," said McKenna, "and a very, very concrete slap in the face sometimes."
But Wichita Schools say security is more than just guards and guns, it's about everyone.
"That is a staff and student responsibility," said McKenna, "to be aware, to be alert and to report."
Because no one person can be everywhere at once.
All Wichita high schools do have school resource officers. The district says there are also several of its security measures that it deliberately hides to keep potential troublemakers from trying to find a way around them.
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