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Columbia school board approves policy for two security directors to be armed in schools

The Columbia school board Monday approved a policy allowing the Director of Safety and Security and his assistant to carry guns in schools.

The 5-2 vote mirrored the vote taken at last month’s first reading of the policy. The new changes give the superintendent the power to allow those two CPS employees to carry a firearm on school property. The policy says the Safety and Security Director and his assistant should have at least ten years of experience working in law enforcement. It requires them to have at least 24 hours of training with a firearm, as well as completed courses in live-fire situations and recognizing mental health issues.

Superintendent Peter Stiepelman told ABC 17 News the district could have a security director that was not allowed to carry a gun on school property.

Columbia police officers are the only other people allowed to have a firearm on school grounds.

John White and Ken Gregory are the current director and assistant director of security for CPS. Both retired from the Columbia Police Department, and have 25 years of experience between them.

Opponents of the policy change said allowing more faculty, even just two, to have guns in school may “escalate” the situation.

“Just because they’re trained, certified law enforcement officials doesn’t mean they can’t make mistakes,” board member Darin Preis said.

Jonathan Sessions voted for the policy change, trusting the requirements the policy puts in place will ensure only properly trained people have guns on school grounds.

“We’re talking about two individuals with an excessive amount of training that they must continue to do, and at one time this community had faith in as police officers, and at that time as police officers, we trusted these individuals to carry firearms,” Sessions said.

Sessions said that he would draw the line of allowing faculty to have guns in school at the two positions he approved Monday night.

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