St. Louis County Police Chief Defends Idea To Arm Educators

Dec 19, 2012

Credit Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s estimated that there are more guns in America than people, and St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch is defending his idea that arming school personnel should be considered when discussing ways to improve school safety.

Speaking to St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh today, Fitch acknowledged that there are serious concerns about his proposal. 

But, the police chief also said he hasn’t heard any other ideas for how to address what he said is a critical gap in time when someone starts shooting and police can respond.    

“How do you think we should respond to that?” Fitch said.  “Nobody has an answer.   Nobody has said, ‘well, I would do this.’  They just say, ‘I don’t like what you said, it’s unacceptable, it’s irresponsible, you should be fired.’  I’ve heard all of that.   But, nobody has an answer for that critical time period.”   

Fitch said in some scenarios having an armed and trained faculty member with a gun could save lives.

“At the end of the day, if an armed gunman makes it into the school, what options are available when they start shooting until the law enforcement officers arrive?" Fitch said.

Fitch also said that gun control and improving mental health services should also be part of the conversation on school safety.   

He and other members of St. Louis County law enforcement and the Safe Schools Partnership will meet tomorrow morning to discuss school safety at the Parkway School District Instructional Services Center.        

Yesterday, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said that any change in policy regarding school safety should only be made after careful consideration and with community input.  Regarding gun control, Dooley added that hunters don’t need assault rifles. 

County Council Chairman, Michael O'Mara, said that improving mental health services should be a centerpiece of any plan to improve school safety.  

Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd