Should School Resource Officers Have Rifles Stored on Campus?

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The number of school shooter incidents is rising every year. Local law enforcement and school officials are considering new and innovative approaches to grapple with these serious events. One approach they are trying is to store weaponry inside the school campus for protection. It sounds great in theory, but you must consider many factors before implementing this strategy.

Over the years, I have audited many police departments, including their armories. Armories are a standard issue for police departments because they need a space to store their weapons. But the compliance issues around an armory are incredibly cumbersome. You need a range master to monitor all the weaponry and ammunition. You must have proper building structures in the event of a firearm discharge. You need high-security locks to ensure that weapons and ammunition cannot be stolen. Contrast that to a school setting, where the technical issues start to add up.

Schools Are Not Ideal for Firearm Storage

Schools have officers known as school resource officers, or SROs. These SROs are technically law enforcement—but the facilities they operate in are not designed to law enforcement standards. This means that SROs who want to store rifles or firearms inside a school building will have obstacles to overcome. Schools do not have the same compliance features or building structures in case something goes wrong.

Schools are notorious for the theft of computers and other high-value assets. Weapons would be a prime target for criminals. Storing rifles inside an SRO office provides minimal protection from theft or student access. Master keys run rampant in schools, allowing unauthorized individuals access to the firearm storage area. Also, school structures are not built with ballistic compliance in mind. Walls and ceilings are unlikely to stop a bullet in the event of an errant discharge.

The Best Option

It is best to store firearms in police vehicles with the proper locking mechanisms that meet state compliance standards. In addition, you should park the vehicle in an area that is readily accessible and centrally located on campus. This allows the officer the quickest response time during an active shooter event. As we have indicated in past videos, response time is the most important factor in shutting down an active shooter. Last October, a rapid response and recent training saved lives in a school shooting incident in St. Louis, Missouri.

A Risky Proposition

In my professional opinion, the risk is way too great to allow unmanned weaponry on campus. The danger of police officers carrying weapons on campus is minimal because they are with their weapons at all times. Once you leave a weapon in a minimally secured area, the chance for theft or other problems comes into play. This is especially true if the school resource officer is not stationed at that school site for the full day. The officer should carry primary and secondary weapons on their person, with additional ammunition available. I understand this increases the weight that the officer must carry. But compare that weight to having to run across campus to obtain a weapon from a police vehicle or a locked office. The time that takes is time the shooter is taking lives.

Watch our video as we expand on this topic.

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