Retired Cops Sought to Help Illinois School Prepare for Potential Shootings

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
November 16, 2018US News
Retired Cops Sought to Help Illinois School Prepare for Potential Shootings
A retired police officer fires a gun at the Ultimate Defense Firing Range and Training Center in St Peters, Missouri on Nov. 26 2014. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

An Illinois school district plans to hire retired police officers as armed office workers, and grant them permission to carry weapons on school campuses to prepare for possible school shootings.

“I want to do everything possible to make sure the children and staff members are safe in buildings,” Palatine School District Superintendent Scott Thompson told WGN.

“When something happens in school, you dial 9-1-1, who shows up? Police officers. Why not have police officers right there in the building as soon as something happens, so there wouldn’t be lag time.”

While the retired officers could help in the event of a shooting, they wouldn’t work as security guards. Rather they would have clerical jobs with duties based outside of the classroom, such as answering phones and filing paperwork.

Retired officers would be paid $20 an hour, and receive medical and dental benefits. “It’s not something new, it’s just in a little bit [of a] different form,” Thompson said.

Guns in schools
One of 200 Utah teachers is trained in how to operate a handgun under the instruction of Clint Simon at a concealed-weapons training class in West Valley City, Utah, on Dec. 27, 2012. (George Frey/Getty Images)

Board Members Endorse Plan

The majority of board members at Palatine Township Elementary District 15 endorsed the proposal at a meeting on Nov. 15.

“We’re not doing this because we had an issue or a situation,” District 15 Board President Lisa Szczupaj told the Chicago Daily Herald. “It’s not responding to something. It’s being proactive, essentially, to elevate the security.”

Two employees expressed reservations about the ban.

“Our office staff have a multitude of responsibilities and care very deeply for the children in their charge,” one of them, Anita Jamnik, said. “The chance for accidental discharge of a firearm in a school, in my opinion, is far too high a risk and outweighs any benefits of having that gun in the building.”

Separate from the meeting, Palatine Police Chief Alan Stoeckel expressed his support for the plan. “Police officers deal with children everyday,” Stoeckel told the Daily Herald. “And 99.9 percent of the time, it’s a positive interaction.”

Community Has Mixed Reactions

When asked about the school’s decision to hire armed officers, locals seemed divided.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. Personally, I don’t know why you would ever want anyone with a loaded gun in a school around children,” Katie Ohlrich told WGN.

“I feel more protection for our children and my grandchildren, and the security would be more favorable to each one of us,” Josephine Abano said.

Leaders of the Educational Support Personnel Association Union at District 15 have reviewed the plan before hiring any staff. Palantine School District 15 serves about 12,800 students.

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