NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Kansas City-area school district is adding an extra layer of protection for its youngest students.
Starting next month, North Kansas City will have new armed security guards at its elementary schools.
But some parents question the need for guns in schools and the private security firm’s faith-based approach.
“I think the money could pay for a lot of free and reduced lunches myself, so I’d rather the funds available to the schools be invested not in militarized security,” said Dylan Pyles, who has two third graders in the district.
Pyles said he is angry with the district’s decision to spend $2.7 million on 28 certified school protection officers.
“I am also deeply concerned for the safety of my children,” Pyles said. “Personally, I don’t believe that armed law enforcement in schools makes schools or my children any safer.”
A study by the University of Albany and RAND over four years shows that SROs “effectively reduce some forms of school violence, but do not prevent school shootings or gun-related incidents,” the study says.
The North Kansas City School District said in a statement:
In an effort to improve safety across North Kansas City’s school buildings, the district is working to place 28 school protection officers at several schools. The Security Officers will add another layer of security alongside the 18 Deputies and School Resource Officers (SRDs and SROs) already in place who are committed to protecting students and staff. NKC Schools top priority is to provide a safe learning environment for its more than 21,000 students.
NKC Schools is partnering with Strategos International, a nationally recognized safety training company to staff all schools and buildings across the district without a full-time SRD. Currently, two SRDs or SROs are dedicated to each high school, one to each middle school, and four travel daily through our 22 elementary locations. The Security Officers will expand our full-time safety and security presence to all school and district buildings.
After careful consideration, the decision was made to seek protection specialists. Many parents have expressed an interest in increasing safety in and around schools. The district wanted to reduce response times for schools in the event of an incident. In light of recent school violence across the country, the district saw an opportunity to improve safety in all schools and buildings.
Rob McLees, director of safety and security at NKC schools, says, “In an emergency, every second counts. Immediate response is a crucial factor in ensuring security. With the addition of the protective officers on site, we can better respond in the event of a major incident.”
They will provide a visible presence during arrival, dismissal and in the office throughout the day. They will also participate in school exercises and emergency plans, as well as regularly check doors and security measures.
NKC Schools has an established partnership with Strategos that provides active shooter training to all staff. According to Strategos, “School Protection Officers are high-quality professionals who are vetted, drug-tested, and highly trained to provide both an armed deterrent and mitigation response to protect your community’s most important asset, which is the students and the staff who educate them”.
The Protection Officers will undergo a rigorous three-week training program by Strategos before being assigned to a school. Security officers will also receive ongoing training. The first class of 14 security officers are expected to be operational in early February. It is expected that by this spring all schools and buildings will have a full-time SRD, SRO or Protection Officer staff.
North Kansas City Schools
The security firm also wrote a faith-based blog, titled “What God’s Word Says About the Use of Force,” which caught the attention of some parents.
“My kids’ school and North Kansa City as a school district is extremely diverse with tons of different faiths and beliefs and types of people, and it just scares me about the kind of environment those kids will be in now,” Pyles said .
FOX4 asked the district about the blog. We have not received answers to all of our questions.