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School Board Approves Armed Guard Policy

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KENT—The Board of Education has quickly approved three amendments to a policy governing an armed security guard in Kent Center School.

The decision came Jan. 2.

In August, the Board of Finance approved a non-lapsing fund from surplus funds to allow the position to be funded through this fiscal year and the Board of Education voted unanimously in its regular December meeting to hire David Melendez for the position with a salary of $34,333 for 2023-24.

KCS Principal Michelle Mott presented the revised policy. She said that she conferred with legal counsel about the policy as “this is new field for lot of places, hiring a security guard outside of the local police department.” 

The policy review did not lead to major changes and was “more a matter of making sure we have the exact language, and that the Dave knows his duties,” Mott said.

Under the policy, the armed security officer must have at least 15 years prior experience as a sworn law enforcement officer with an organized local police department, a federal law enforcement agency, or the state.

He or she must be certified by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council or have received certification that meets or exceeds the POSTC standards.

Also, he or she must have good mental health and must pass annual training in police standards and semi-annual firearms training.

All security certifications and training requirements must be current, including certifications and/or licenses to carry and use firearms on school property.

The candidate must pass a full background investigation if required by the board and/or state or federal law.

Duties include detection and prevention of any unauthorized activity in the school or its property, monitoring access to and patrolling the building and responding to situations that might jeopardize the welfare of students or staff. Outside the school, the officer will monitor parking lots while students are arriving and departing.

He/she will be requested to assist in the development and implementation of strategies to prevent or minimize dangerous situations. The officer will be attired in a uniform or wear an identifying insignia designated by the Board of Education.

The revised policy eliminated the requirement for a valid driver’s license as the officer will not be driving a provided vehicle. It added a provision that the candidate must receive training in physical restraint.

Finally, legal counsel recommended that the officer own his/her how firearm, registered to him or her, because of storage issues.

“I don’t like the idea of the school district being responsible for purchasing firearms,” said Region 1 Superintendent of Schools Lisa Carter.

She commented that the Kent ASO is not affiliated with the local police department as in other towns. “If we hire a retired officer, we have to make sure that they get the training, etc. that they need, and it makes more sense for them to purchase their own firearm.”

“This is the advice that the state gives,” said Mott. “We could see changes as more schools add armed security guards.”

The addition of an armed security guard at the elementary school has been controversial in the town and was voted down by townspeople when included in the annual budget.

At that time, the officer would have been a state trooper at a cost just around $200,000. The current ASO will earn about $70,000 and will be included in the school board’s budget next year.

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