Boyertown school district to arm school police officer

 

In Boyertown, the school board is making moves aimed at keeping kids safer. The board approved a plan to let the district police officer carry a gun.

The armed officer will have guidelines to follow, but will be able to use deadly force if necessary. The superintendent said the district is upping safety measures in several areas.

"I think it's a great idea with everything that's going on in the schools with shootings," said resident Bonnie Rotz.

The board unanimously approved the move as part of the district's updated use of force policy, which reads in part:

The Boyertown Area School District acknowledges that recent school incidents involving violence require that it take a pro-active approach.

The superintendent said the district spoke to police and districts with armed officers before making this decision. Some community members wonder if this is the answer.

"I'm really sad that it's a question that doesn't solve the problem. It doesn't change the situation at all," said Judy Wetzel.

The district will arm its current police officer and may add another in the future.

The use of force policy said armed officers will be off-duty and/or retired law enforcement officers and they'll have to meet education and training that would permit them to serve as police officers.

"I guess I just think it's necessary because you don't know what's going to happen," said former Boyertown Area School District student Sarah Ealy.

Other safety upgrades are in the works. The superintendent said the district is securing entrances, adding more cameras and increasing outreach aimed at students' social and emotional state. Next month, school leaders will also undergo trauma training.

"It would be nice if this wasn't a concern. It would just be so nice," Wetzel said.

The plan is to arm the officer at the beginning of the new year. The district will send notices to parents and community members who haven't been able to attend any of the board meetings.