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Arming Teachers: St. Louis County Police Chief Responds To Support And Opposition

Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County Chief of Police Tim Fitch (standing at podium).

St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch says arming school personnel should be considered when discussing ways to improve school safety.

Host Don Marsh talked with Fitch about his proposal, which he made a couple of days after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. 

Fitch acknowledged that there are serious concerns about his proposal but said he hasn’t heard any other ideas for how to address the lag 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.

A listener from Imperial, MO named Kristin called into the program expressing her support for Fitch’s proposal. 

I am so glad that someone with a little bit louder of a voice than I have is willing to breech this topic because I think it is an excellent idea.  I know I would personally would feel much safer with my second grader at the school that there at, if I knew that if something like this were to happen, someone can take care of it before the police get there.  Some people who feel like this is a bad idea…haven’t really considered what they would do in that situation and how people can really deal with it.  How do you deal with an armed assailant without a firearm?

Most of the feedback we received, however, was in opposition to the proposal. 

On our Facebook page, Rosalind wrote, “I like that good teachers are calm and collected in a crisis, as (the teachers in Newtown) were. I don't want to have teachers having to worry about being armed and having to shoot someone in front of our children, because whatever calm reserve they had will evaporate under that kind of stress.

And, Tonya wrote, “What happens when a teacher shoots a kid? Who is liable then? We had a 100 pound English teacher and I think 99% of the class could overtake her and get her gun. Do we really want guns around hormonal, impulsive and angry teens?” 

Do you agree with Chief Fitch?  Add your opinion to the comments section below.

Tim Lloyd contributed to this report

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

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