BUTLER (KDKA/AP) – Armed school officers are now being used in the Butler Area School District. The school district got a court order over the weekend so it could arm officers in each of its schools on Monday in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Connecticut.
South Butler officials confirmed their plans to used armed police, though the district’s superintendent could not immediately be reached for details. But Butler Area Superintendent Michael Strutt said they have an armed officer in each of the 11 elementary and three secondary schools starting Monday, and likely will going forward.
The Butler School Board took what some described as “dramatic action” last week by agreeing to put retired, armed state troopers in the schools.
“Whether we’re right or whether we’re wrong, we will do whatever it takes to protect the children in Butler School District,” Dr. Strutt said.
The original plan was for the troopers to be in the three secondary schools. Now, the discussion will expand to the 11 elementary schools.
“If we were to discharge a weapon that would be the absolute last resort,” said Paul Epps, one of the retired state troopers.
Sunday’s court order allows those officers to “carry their own weapons on the job until such time as the school district purchases weapons for them,” Strutt said.
The school board has an executive session scheduled later Monday to discuss the district’s long-term security plans, but Strutt said discussions he’s had with the school board lead him to believe “it will be a permanent thing with the school police officers being armed in every school.”
The district had a roster of 18 retired troopers it used as school police, so finding one for each school on Monday did not require hiring any new officers, Strutt said.
Pittsburgh Public Schools has its own police department and staffs schools with unarmed officers who work closely with city police. Officials with the city district didn’t immediately comment on whether any security changes might be forthcoming after the Connecticut shooting.
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