Wake County Schools

Wake school board delays vote on unarmed guards amid debate

Posted January 22, 2013

— The Wake County Board of Education postponed a Tuesday vote on a proposal to put unarmed security guards at area elementary schools, shortly after the Wake County Board of Commissioners roundly criticized the idea.

School board Chairman Keith Sutton said the proposal needs more discussion before a vote, but commissioners said unarmed guards would be a waste of money that accomplishes nothing.

"I am all about security officers, but they need to be armed. Can’t see where an unarmed security officer will be able to protect any child," Commissioner Phil Matthews said. "God forbid someone did show up with evil intentions to break into the school. What are they going to do stop them? Absolutely nothing. If they are not armed, they are not a true security officer."

The proposal calls for spending up to $2.4 million a year to hire AlliedBarton Security Services guards for each of the school district's 105 elementary schools. The company already provides security for some district schools.

Commissioners said they believe school board members acted too quickly in even thinking about a vote without bothering to have a conversation with the community – or with commissioners.

"I'm not really sure anyone, including the school board, has done any real research," Commissioner James West said.

"I think it's worth having a conversation with them about real effect and real change that would protect our children versus something that's a feel-good measure that won't do any good," Commissioner Paul Coble said.

Sutton said the recommendation was made after a review of the district's security policy in the wake of the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Susan Evans Wake school board postpones vote on unarmed guards

"We're trying to take some proactive steps to keep our schools safe," Sutton said. "There aren't any threats being posed, but we have some issues around access with some of our elementary schools. They are not covered in the same way as our middle and high schools."

Most of the district's high schools and some middle schools have armed school resource officers, but elementary schools do not.

"People feel like it is too easy for someone to walk into the front of our schools," said school board member Susan Evans after district staff members explained that the guards would act as a full-time, dedicated monitor at the front door.

Commissioner Tony Gurley called the proposal another example of irresponsible spending by the school board.

Sutton said money budgeted for other ventures wouldn't be used to pay for the security.

"We are not cutting from anywhere if this is approved," he said. "We would be pulling money from overage and surplus money we've saved during the year."

County Manager David Cooke told commissioners that the school board has the authority to spend money on the guards.

Some parents say they like the idea of added security even though they aren't necessarily worried about another school shooting like the one at Sandy Hook, where 20 first-graders and six staff members lost their lives

Wake County Board of Commissioners Wake commissioners blast idea of unarmed school guards

"Once you're used to (the extra security), it's comforting," parent Margaret Kline said. "I don't think I'd be opposed to it because it's one more layer of security."

Tara Kramling agreed but said she doesn't think the shooting at Sandy Hook is an indication of a huge problem with security at elementary schools. 

"It was a tragedy in and of itself, but I don't think it indicates a huge problem that every school should be on lockdown all the time," she said.

Matthews said the Board of Commissioners has received emails from people who don't want to place unarmed guards in schools. He and other commissioners said they hope to talk with school board members to see if they can come up with some sort of agreement on this issue.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Lightfoot3 Jan 24, 2013

    Unarmed guards? They already have plenty of those with the teachers and other school workers. They need to have an ARMED guard.

  • Tax Man Jan 24, 2013

    Unarmed guards will be worthless as there are already plenty of responsible adults on campus. We need ARMED and trained folks - better to be regular teachers and administrators with CCW permits - those whose choose to carry to protect the schools. Most unarmed security guards earn minimum wage and have little real training in bringing down a heavily armed intruder - they would merely be more targets. Retired/former police and military with weapons makes more sense also, but you could not have then in very many places. Allow the staff who have CCW permits to carry on campus as well as any parents who are visiting who have CCW permits. Remove "gun-free" zones as they do not help and do not work! There should be no such thing. If you are law abiding and have a CCW permit you should be able to carry your weapon EVERYWHERE. The bad guys don't care or obey the law - we need good guys who do obey the law to stop the bad guys wherever the bad guys may be.

  • HANS FOR PRESIDENT!!!!! JK Jan 23, 2013

    If they're like the Allied Barton type guards you see at the malls these days they would provide too much security whether they had a gun or not. I know there are exceptions to any rule but you teach someone basic gun safety, give them $11.00 bucks an hour, a gun, and a uniform and think you've done anything other than primarily waste money and given a few people a false sense of security you're sadly mistaken. On top of the fact that you leave the decision in the hands of that bunch on the Wake County school board........

  • ECF1956 Jan 23, 2013

    webtech2008.."UNARMED SECURITY: They would see the intruder coming and activate alarm; building secured, help on the way. Lives will be lost, but much less than if no guards. "
    ....exactly how is unarmed security better than teachers and/or school administrators doing the same? As far a AR-15 vs. pistol, if the police are in a position of cover and take a shooter by surprise or while reloading, a pistol can take out the shooter. As far a a person planning an attack, if they knew nobody was armed it wouldn't change their mind. You also need to think before you comment.

  • federalsales2 Jan 23, 2013

    Unarmed,,How dumb can they be, what happens when the crazy comes to school with weapon and the guard says hole on while I go get my weapon. What a Joke, don't even waste your time, I was in Vietnam we had weapons, but if you had to put me or anybody else without one,,forget about it.....

  • free2speak Jan 23, 2013

    Really put guards at schools with no weapons. Yea that is real smart let me tell ya. Not.. Waste of taxpayers money with guards not armed. If you are going to put guards in schools then atleast have them armed. An unarmed guard does nothing. Stupid Stupid Stupid. On the other hand this is how the majority of the Wake School Board thinks so not surprised.

  • ICTrue Jan 23, 2013

    "charmcclainlovesdogs2... Locking doors. Yes that sounds good in stheory , but since we have all these trailers (sorry modular classroooms) outside, it would be hard to do. What about children getting locked out?"

    I thought about this too, that is a major issue with trying to secure the schools. Maybe these should only be allowed in courtyard areas where they can be fenced and secured. I hate to set up our schools like prisons but if they don't deal with the justice system and they keep turning violent criminals and the mentally ill out on the streets I guess we have to imprison our kids to keep them safe from them. 75% of all violent crimes are commited by repeat offenders.

  • webtec2008 Jan 23, 2013

    Amazes me how people who have no clue comment. So these are the choices:
    POLICE: They would carry Glock 40. Against an AR15, they might as well have a squirt gun.
    ARMED SECURITY: Much cheaper, but still outgunned.
    UNARMED SECURITY: They would see the intruder coming and activate alarm; building secured, help on the way. Lives will be lost, but much less than if no guards. They would not try to John Wayne the intruder, but summon help (local/state police) and alert everyone FAST as intruder GETS OUT OF CAR AND LOADS WEAPON ... but without an observer, NO ONE would see him til he got to the door. EARLY WARNING principle.

    Take shooting in TN in 2002; bank robbery, police responded. TWO officers shot with assault weapon. The robber did not die UNTIL multiple units arrived and shot him ..... so the two police against one didn't work. THEY WERE OUTGUNNED.

    NO GUARD: I promise, if there was a security presence, the person PLANNING the attack choses to go to somewhere else. That's a FA

  • ICTrue Jan 23, 2013

    "I think it's a good idea. Anything can help that may save some little kids. The guard may be trained in commications with first responders. Nothing bad can come from it and he will not scare little kids with a gun. Come on people. Member of NRA."

    Seriously, when have you ever seen an unarmed gaurd that was worth the money? It won't work, it won't save any little kids. There are already people in the front office that are trained in communications. It is a kneejerk reaction by a liberal school board that is in panic mode because they have no idea what to do. It's too bad that they don't have Tony Tata to tell them.

  • baldchip Jan 23, 2013

    Unarmed guards are a waste of taxpayer money. What is he going to do-throw a bullet at an armed intruder-if he's still alive???