We’re learning a bit more about a new municipal school police force that will likely be overseeing school security at Butler School District beginning this fall.
Superintendent Dr. Brian White says the district currently has 20 school police officers- all retired state troopers- and those officers will make up the force. No additional hiring is planned, and no firing is planned. The school board approved the move on Monday.
“We want to make sure our officers have all the authority, and the resources, they need to protect our students and staff,” White said in an interview on Wednesday. “This move gives the officers a little more authority should they need to pursue something off school grounds but related to school.”
Officers do carry a firearm currently but they don’t carry any non-lethal weapons, like tasers and handcuffs. Now, they will be able to.
“We love our officers. They do a tremendous job. We’re taking this action to support them,” White said.
The district will spend some money on additional training for the officers, as well as equipment, but overall the superintendent says it won’t be a big expense. And, he says, additional security expenses were budgeted for.
“I anticipated some cost related to school safety, which we intended to do irregardless,” he said.
The Butler School District has always been on the cutting-edge of school security.
It was the first district in the county to put in metal detectors and start searching students’ bags following the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. The district gained national, and worldwide, attention when it put armed guards into schools just days after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. Alongside other innovations such as access control systems, and emergency door barriers, the district continues to be at forefront of ensuring student safety.
“We want to make sure we’re doing everything that we can,” Superintend Brian White said.
White said Butler isn’t the first school district in the state to create a municipal school police force; others have done. It will, however, be the first school in Butler County to create one.
Butler’s largest school- the Butler Senior High- is a unique, open campus that presents some security problems. Earlier this year, the district decided to station some officers at each of the campuses two road entrances to police traffic and cut down on drivers using the campus as a pass-through.
“It’s cut down on transportation across that campus, giving us some level of access control,” he said. “It’s still a tough building in a sense that it’s an open campus. Schools are not forts, but adding some level of security I think has given everyone some piece of mind.”