PIERRE — Many school districts in South Dakota already have resource officers in their buildings, including uniformed members of the local police force in some communities. Now comes a new concept called school sentinels that Rep. Scott Craig, R-Rapid City, wants to allow.

Craig’s legislation, HB 1087, says individual school boards “may create, establish, and supervise the arming of school employees, hired security personnel or volunteers” to deter physical threats and defend schools, their personnel, their students and members of the public on the school premises “against violent attack by any terrorist, criminal, deranged person, or other perpetrator of deadly force.”

Among the legislation’s many co-sponsors are House Republican leader David Lust and House Speaker Brian Gosch, who are lawyers, and former law enforcement officer Sen. Craig Tieszen. All are Rapid City Republicans.

State law currently prohibits firearms, air guns and other dangerous weapons in schools and on school premises. The ban contains an exception for a law enforcement officer.

The legislation would require the school board to “interface” with any law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the school premises. The school board also would be required to notify the law enforcement agency about any changes.

Other co-sponsors of Craig’s bill in the House are Republicans Jim Bolin of Canton, Chip Campbell of Rapid City, Scott Ecklund of Brandon, Leslie Heinemann of Flandreau, Steve Hickey of Sioux Falls, Don Kopp of Rapid City, Elizabeth May of Kyle, Betty Olson of Prairie City, Lee Qualm of Platte, Kyle Schoenfish of Scotland, Jacqueline Sly of Rapid City, Jim Stalzer of Sioux Falls, Manny Steele of Sioux Falls, Mike Verchio of Hill City and Hal Wick of Sioux Falls.

Other co-sponsors in the Senate are Democrat Jim Bradford of Pine Ridge and Republicans Tim Begalka of Clear Lake, Bob Ewing of Spearfish, Phil Jensen of Rapid City, Mark Kirkeby of Rapid City, Dan Lederman of Dakota Dunes, Ryan Maher of Isabel, Al Novstrup of Aberdeen, David Omdahl of Sioux Falls and Larry Rhoden of Union Center.

The bill has been assigned to the House Education Committee, which Sly chairs.

(2) comments

sdgrandma
sdgrandma

This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. I would not want my child going to a school where a lot of people were armed. A student could take a gun away or find one left carelessly placed. How can you arm people who are not qualified to make those kinds of decisions? This is the dumbest thing ever and a tragedy waiting to happen.

GSRANN

No, No, No! Let local school districts have local control. The state does NOT need to get involved in how they run their business. Resource officers are a great idea and quite a few large schools have them. However, the idea of armed "sentinels" is just plain scary. I agree with sdgrandma - this is the dumbest idea ever. We do not need guns in our schools, under any circumstances. What are you thinking, legislators? Guns don't solve problems; they create problems.

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