Ignoring School Shootings, School Board Votes To Not Arm District's Police Force

Board member Sala Udin said that officers should find another line of work if they cannot do their jobs without guns.

Pittsburgh, PA – The Pittsburgh Public Schools board has rejected a proposal to arm the school district’s police officers.

In an eight-to-one vote on Wednesday night, school board officials voted to leave the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ 22-member police force unarmed, WPXI reported.

The seven board members who voted against the proposal said that bringing guns into the schools was an unnecessary risk, according to the news outlet.

“The belief for many of us is that it's just not needed. So we'll vote accordingly tonight,” Pittsburgh Public School Board President Dr. Regina Holley said during the meeting. “The proximity to city police, in the city, is much different than it is in the suburban areas.”

District Police Chief George Brown had requested the policy change earlier this month, noting that the police force had undergone proper training and should be allowed to carry firearms as they work to protect students and faculty.

Some school board members disagreed, and said the officers should be able to handle potentially dangerous situations at the schools without having to use firearms.

“I think that officers who feel so threatened that they cannot de-escalate and handle situations presented by school students should seriously consider, perhaps, another line of work,” board member Sala Udin said during the meeting, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Board member Kevin Carter said that arming officers would “drastically change the climate” of the school environment, and claimed it would “increase the stress and trauma related to that stress of the students that we are there to educate,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, board member Moira Kaleida raised concerns that seeing armed police officers could have a negative impact on students “of color” and those with disabilities.

Cynthia Falls was the only board member who voted in favor of arming the district’s police force.

“A safe learning environment is a prerequisite before any learning can take place,” Falls said during the meeting. “Our trained school police have earned our respect … and have the right to go home safely to their families every night.”

Seventy-five people showed up to the meeting to speak out against arming the schools’ police force, and no one spoke in favor of the proposal, WPXI reported.

Holley said she supported Chief Brown’s desire to keep students safe, but said she believes there are other ways to accomplish such a goal without guns.

“The suburban schools have it, but that doesn't mean we have to have it as well," she said. “He cares about the children, he cares about the staff, he wants everyone to be safe. However, we have a different view on how that should actually be done.”

Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers spokesperson Bill Hileman said that the proposal was especially intended to provide better security for events, and to provide an additional tool to the mobile police unit that responds to incidents throughout the district.

“It’s about the safety of our children,” Hileman said.

“Our vote tonight does not mean we are not supportive of our security staff,” Holley said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Our vote tonight will be one in which we are telling our security staff, ‘Continue doing the work that you’re doing,’ but for me it does not mean I'm going to let you strap a gun to your side.”

Comments (29)
No. 1-25
DannyWmo
DannyWmo

Those school board members have no clue! I pray that nothing happens in one of the schools where an armed officer could have stopped something from happening or ended something after it began. They do not have a "Police Force" they have an unarmed security force.

Bonneville Kid
Bonneville Kid

How many of those 22 officers will confront and talk down an active shooter? The Board seems to only be focused on a student shooter, what about a intruder shooter?

ProGODProUSA
ProGODProUSA

How are they supposed to stop a shooter then? With rubber bands and pink erasers? That's like having a toothless guard dog with a bark collar to boot.

365
365

Sometimes the best, or even only, de escalation option is to use force.

angeleyes
angeleyes

Might as well hire security guards right out of high school. I pray there is no need for weapons as there is no one to protect the students or the teachers. Hopefully it's none of the idiotic parents that showed up in opposition to weapons being allowed on security force. If I was the security officers i would be finding another job where i can feel safe and not worry about getting home to my family.