Posted 10 months ago
By John Axtell
Retired District Judge Paul Empson wants the Chadron school district to start a program that would arm and train at least 3 teachers per floor in each of the district’s 4 schools, allowing them to respond within seconds to any intruder.
Empson told the school board this week that almost all the mass shootings in recent years have been in locations where guns are not allowed, with the major exception being the incident in Phoenix where Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot and where the gunman surrendered after being confronted by an armed citizen.
A prosecutor before spending more than 20 years on the bench, Empson said he wasn’t talking about “dishing out guns like popcorn,” but rather having a core of armed teachers trained in both the use of guns and training in incident management and response.
He also said he thought female teachers would be the best choices to be armed because they’re quicker learners than men, retain learned training better, and are physiologically better equipped to multi-task…important in a quickly changing emergency situation.
Empson apologized during his remarks for frequent pauses trying to find the proper words and getting frequent word prompts from his wife, a retired teacher, blaming his condition on a traumatic injury to the brain.
Empson’s idea went counter to a report from School Resource Officer Aron Chrisman on discussions by the school district’s safety committee. Chrisman said that arming teachers was among a mix of ideas considered for providing faster response to an emergency situation, but was not one that was recommended.
While liking the idea that armed teachers would cut response time from minutes to seconds, Chrisman said the feeling in the committee was that there would be too many hurdles to overcome…including the cost, training of teachers, the possibility of accidents or mistaken identity, and liability issues.
Chrisman said the review of the safety plan…based in part on the district’s “lockdown” drill with law enforcement…did result in some tweaking on the procedures to use in a hostage or intruder situation and an informal decision to continue exploring new safety options.
Among the ones he mentioned were magnetic door locks that allow rooms to be quickly accessed or sealed off, requiring visitors to scan their driver’s licenses for criminal record checks, the use of metal detectors on visitors, and fortifying the entrances to the schools.