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IL school district to employ armed retired cops for clerical jobs in elementary schools

Rachad Wilson (right, in light blue), principal of Endeavour Elementary School, Cocoa, Fla., discusses the community school program with Dr. Jarris L. Taylor Jr., the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for strategic diversity initiative, Sept. 7, 2016. (Susan A. Romano/U.S. Air Force )
November 20, 2018

Palatine Township Elementary District 15 in Illinois is planning on tightening security by hiring retired police officers to work clerical positions within the schools and the officers will be armed.

This bold move has sparked a lot of controversy, but District Superintendent Scott Thompson isn’t backing down, according to The Daily Herald.

Palatine Township has 15 elementary schools and childhood centers and Thompson is trying to find a way to make the buildings safer.

There are around 12,800 students in District 15, which includes areas of Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, South Barrington, Arlington Heights, and Schaumburg, ABC 7 News reported.

Thompson created a plan to hire armed retired police officers to work the front desks and be prepared for any security breaches.

The retired cops would make around $20 an hour and receive medical and dental benefits, but in addition to providing security, they would also perform clerical jobs.

They would wear civilian clothes and their weapons would not be visible.

The district already employs armed resource officers in all four of their junior high schools, but said they lack funds to use them in the elementary schools.

On Wednesday, members of the school board told Thompson to move forward with his proposal.

Palatine Police Chief Alan Stoeckel said, “Well-trained retirees would be in “protection mode,” constantly monitoring to make sure nothing appears wrong.”

Former school resource officer George Winkler doesn’t think Thompson’s plan will work. He believes the answer to enhanced security is through technology and the schools should utilize remote locking systems, cameras, and improved visitor screening.

Winkler said, “I really don’t want any guns in school, even the police.”

Parents of the district had mixed feelings about armed officers in their child’s school.

One parent, Carol Allain of Rolling Meadows said, “They see things because of their street training that normal teachers and principals and assistant principals don’t see. We have a problem in this country, and nothing’s being done. I think this is the catalyst to spark something to go forward.”

Carolyn Geddis said, “Mistakes are easily made when guns are involved. This is a ridiculous risk for my school district to take. I’m vehemently opposed to this.”

Another parent, Danielle Smith of Palatine posted a Facebook message that said she likes the idea of armed security but doesn’t think they should work clerical positions.

Madison County sheriff’s deputy Kip Heinle said normally retired police officers are employed in junior high and high school buildings.

Heinle said, “Basically, what you’re getting is an armed security guard.”

Bridget Shanahan, a spokeswoman for the umbrella Illinois Education Association said they have not seen the proposal for review.