Security guards inside Emporia middle and high schools will most likely be armed with guns as early as next month.
The decision comes after the Emporia school board voted unanimously to approve the proposal. The Goddard school district has armed its school security guards for more than 16 years.
"With that authority comes weaponry. You can only defend life and property if they're properly equipped to do so and by being properly equipped that means carrying firearms," says Ronny Lieurance, Chief of Goddard School District Police.
Chief Lieurance says it was their own fatal school shooting back in 1985 that prompted changes. That included forming their own police department with armed officers. A school principal was shot by a student and a teacher and another student were hurt.
"Today, we have 5 police school officers, we are fully commissioned police officers, like any other officer that you would meet," says Lieurance.
This week Emporia schools approved a proposal for their school security officers to carry guns.
All of the security guards in the district are retired police officers who are and licensed and trained to carry. Their new job description asks for them to meet all of the board's requirements. They inclue requiring security officers to have a 3-5 years experience as a Kansas police officer. The security officers have to have a psychological exam. And the officers must be licensed and have a legal permit to carry in the State of Kansas.
Emporia's current school security guards are paid by the school district.
Chief Lieurance says that Goddard's officers cost about $500,000 a year. He says you can't put a price tag on school safety.
"Those are discussions that need to take place. Whether it's feasible for a school district, or a police department or a sheriff's department to put armed officers in every school remains to be seen," he says.
Goddard schools have 5 police officers on staff in all of their schools.