Should Oroville School teachers be armed?

Board to consider ways to allow staff to fight back against ‘active shooter.

“Student and staff safety is a very high priority with the board and having staff at school be able to protect our children in an event such as an active shooter  weighs heavy on their minds.” Supt. Steve Quick

OROVILLE – The Oroville School Board is considering training school staff in ways to respond to threats in the school, as well as allowing a select number of staff to receive training to be able to carry concealed weapons on school grounds – but before they would approve either or both, they will be seeking public comment next Monday, July 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school commons.

“The school board realizes that arming staff members may be controversial in nature and is seeking community input on the subject,” said Superintendent Steve Quick.

The board is considering using Force Dynamics to train the entire staff this fall in Gap training. (Gap, being the time of the first shot and when law enforcement can arrive). Force Dynamics has trained several schools and hospitals, including North Valley Hospital in Tonasket, in GAP training, according to Quick. GAP training is a lockdown system that is based on the concept of proper room fortification in the case of active shooter and defending the “fatal funnel” (doorway).

“The premise behind the training is to help staff members not just hide and wait, but to take an active role in defending doorways and fighting back should an active shooter ever be present, essentially taking a trained, proactive approach rather than hiding in a classroom and simply doing nothing. The GAP training seeks to minimize casualties in such an event in that gap of time when police are on their way to an active shooting in a school,” said Quick.

“The board is also considering utilizing Force Dynamics to train select staff members on concealed weapons to give a few staff members the ability to minimize the number of casualties in an active shooter event by arming them when it can sometimes take law enforcement 5-10 minutes to respond from the time the first shot is fired and officers arrive on scene, Quick said, adding, “Trained staff members would receive much more than the minimum state requirement for a security guard and would receive ongoing and annual training and recertification.”

Currently two school districts in the state, Kiona-Benton and Toppenish have approved policies allowing approving the training of school staff to carry concealed weapons through this very rigorous program. Their experience of arming select staff members to carry concealed weapons has been very positive in their districts.

At the last school board meeting the subject was broached by the board by Director Todd Hill, who also serves as Oroville Police Chief.

“I like the GAP training because it teaches staff how to fight back. If you’re not trained you often tend to panic,” said Hill.

Teacher Ed Booker, a former officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, commented that “it was a sad state of affairs” when schools have to consider having armed staff.

“Our school is more fortunate than most with law enforcement and former law enforcement presence,” added Rock DeVon, board chairman.

DeVon said he had spoken with students at Toppenish, where some staff members had completed the training, including carrying concealed weapons. He said the students told him they were comfortable with the fact some staff were armed and felt greater safety at school.

“Student and staff safety is a very high priority of the board and having staff at school be able to protect our children in an event such as an active shooter weighs heavy on their minds,” said Quick.

Those that are unable to make it to the Monday, July 29 meeting and who would like to provide comment one way or the other, are asked to write a letter to the board or call the district office to speak with the superintendent at 509-476-2281.