Faulkner Co. Sheriff proposes plan to arm administrators

FAULKNER COUNTY (KATV) - The Faulkner County Sheriff proposed a plan to arm school administrators.{}The plan was laid out to Mt. Vernon-Enola school board members Thursday afternoon.

It's the first time the unique proposal has been publicly discussed and it's already stirring up some controversy. But Sheriff Andy Shock said he's willing to take on critics if it means saving a student's life.

"Law enforcement needs to stay with law enforcement," said{}Deanna Hoffman, a parent. "I don't think that that belongs in the school. I think that that needs to stay where it is."

After tragedies like Columbine and Sandy Hook,{}the thought of guns in school is something that makes many people uncomfortable. But Thursday{}afternoon,{}Faulkner County Sheriff Andy Shock and Prosecuting Attorney, Cody Hiland, sat in front of Mt. Vernon-Enola's school board and asked them to hold a difficult discussion.

"You have to look at things," he said.{}"You can't be blinded by saying it will never happen here."

He proposed a plan to deputize administrators in the district which would allow them to carry guns. Teachers are not included in the plan.

"You ask any policeman across the country, some of the most tragic memories involve children," said Shock.

In his proposal the district would have the option to certify administrators who take a 110-hour state course free of charge for the district. Passing the course, Shock says, will be no easy task.

"This is not a class that you sit in for half a day and we issue you a gun," he said.

The class covers 41 areas, six of which, shock says, administrators will receive extra training.

With the district in a rural area and looking at a 15-minute response time from authorities,{}if something were to happen, it's a plan Superintendent Larry Walters says deserves some consideration.

"When you talk about the response time and students' safety you look at what you have to do," said Walters.{}"And if this is something that we have to do, I think the public will accept it."

Even if many parents feel strongly about keeping schools gun-free.

"Training your teachers and your staff on how to handle a situation should always be the case, but not when it involves a weapon," said Hoffman.

The board did not vote on anything Thursday night. It was simply a discussion. Shock says he wants every district to know they have options.


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