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School Security Forum, part 2

Editor's Note: This is the last part of the two-part series on a School Security Forum, hosted by the Silver City-Grant County TEA Party Patriots on April 23.

The last topic was anonymous concealed carry on trained staff.

Sheriff Raul Villanueva said the person with concealed carry in schools would have to get a permit, training and a psychiatric evaluation. "I'm for teachers carrying, the same as the school resource officers."

Silver Schools Superintendent Lon Streib said he would prefer teachers to just be teachers and law enforcement to just be law enforcement. "The twain shall not meet, except to keep kids safe."

New Mexico State Police Sgt. Ricky Herrera said the topic consisted of multiple issues. "Where would the teacher keep the concealed carry? It might be bad, if the responding officer sees someone with a gun, the officer will shoot at the person, if he or she doesn't drop the gun. If someone is in a uniform, we know it's a good guy."

Silver School Board President Trent Petty said he personally did not have a problem with certain teachers having a gun. "They would need a lot more training and would have to know when to shoot or not."

Silver City Police Department Captain Rick Villalobos said he would be against the concealed carry by teachers. "If we are responding to a situation, we may not be familiar with the teachers. Our first reaction is to take care of the threat."

Butch Cassaday of ProForce said he does a lot of concealed carry classes. "The most critical time is from the time of entry of the 'bad guy' to law enforcement arriving. An active shooter wants to shoot. If you are going to put a gun on a teacher, it is expensive and the teacher must have extensive training and conditioning. I know police agencies want more training for concealed carry. Most people don't know where to carry the weapon, when they have only a basic 15- hour training."

The forum was open to questions from the audience.

A questioner asked if the schools in Silver City and Grant County are designated no-gun zones.

Silver Schools Associate Superintendent Gus Benakis said state law, as well as school policy, mandated the schools to be weapon-free zones.

A Silver City resident said his question is how can the schools keep a shooter out of the schools.

Villalobos said intel information flows, "and we react and follow up."

Herrera said: "Mainly we react, because we cannot cover Facebook. If you know of something going on or you hear something, report it, so we can prevent it before it happens.

The resident said students don't report such things.

Petty said his son told him no one would use the suggestion box to report anything. "Too often the students don't talk to authorities, but if we have school resources officers who get the trust of the students, the SROs can report things, besides just securing the perimeter."

Cassaday said everyone has to try to be as prepared as possible, with training part of the preparation. "It's not just firearms. You have to try to prevent not just a shooter, but any and everything."

An audience member said during his brief time as a reserve officer in California, he had to deal with drugs, pimps and criminal penetration into the schools.

Another questioner asked what law enforcement could do when someone finds out about a mentally ill person.

Villanueva said: "We're obligated to get them to a hospital."

The same woman asked about schools and counselors.

Benakis said the counselors can observe children, and if a problem is detected, can call parents in to get the child some help.

Cassaday said because of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) privacy and security rules, "if I were to say something to the sheriff or police department I could be sued for divulging information."

The woman asked about metal detectors.

Benakis said he is not sure the schools have talked about that. Petty said sometimes a drug dog, which also can detect gunpowder, is brought into the schools. "The students don't know when the dog is coming."

An audience member said the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter took five minutes to kill 26 teachers and children. Then the police showed up and he shot himself. "That's one good reason to pick a school with no guns allowed. A kid may want his picture in the paper, but if the kid knows there may be a teacher with a concealed carry, he might think twice. I suggest you take the virtual gun-free sign off, and put a sign on the door, saying: Protected by Armed, Trained Personnel."

"Where I used to work at Brushy Mountain Radar Site, we had a sign that read 'Deadly Force Authorized,'" Petty said.
Cassady said crazy people don't read signs.

A questioner asked what the schools learned from the stabbing death of a student by a non-student, in the parking lot at the high school. "How are we making the outside safer?"

Benakis said the lot was fenced and a security guard is at the gate. "We're doing what we can."

Petty said, after the fact, a suggestion was made to put a camera up to keep watch.

The moderator of the forum, Larry Flippo, noted that if someone were going into the school to shoot, that person would likely shoot the guard first.

The coordinator for the forum, Skip Thacker, asked if the school boards thought they could carve out funding for armed security in each school.

Petty said the Silver School Board will be discussing the issue, and that he was told SCPD Chief Ed Reynolds said he was looking for such funding.

"One of my sergeants is a Cobre School Board member, and we have discussed getting funding for a school resource officer," Villanueva said. "Cobre's police department is the Bayard Police Department."

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