Palatine, IL – A school district in the northwest suburbs of Chicago is going to hire armed retired police officers in clerical roles while also increasing school security.
Palatine Township Elementary District 15’s school board agreed with a proposal Wednesday to have retired law enforcement officers work front-desk jobs at the school district, according to the Daily Herald.
The retired police officers would answer telephones, collect students’ lunch money and handle other administrative front office duties, the Daily Herald reported.
Palatine Police Chief Alan Stoeckel was supportive of the school district’s plan. Chief Stoeckel said the retired police would be in “protection mode” and constantly monitoring the school grounds, according to the Daily Herald.
"Police officers deal with children every day," Chief Stoeckel said, according to the Daily Herald. "And 99.9 percent of the time, it's a positive interaction."
The retired police officers would be paid $20 an hour and receive medical and dental benefits.
George Winkler, who worked for 30 years as an Elk Grove Village police officer including as a school resource officer, said he didn’t think the plan would be effective.
Winkler said that schools could be more secure if they increased their use of technology on things such as cameras, remote locks on doors and better screening of visitors, the Daily Herald reported.
"I really don't want any guns in school, even the police," said Winkler.
Carol Allain is a parent of a student in the district and has anti-gun beliefs, according to the Daily Herald. But she said that having retired police officers in the schools could make the district more safe for students.
"They see things because of their street training that normal teachers and principals and assistant principals don't see," said Allain, according to the Daily Herald. "We have a problem in this country, and nothing's being done. I think this is the catalyst to spark something to go forward."
Another parent whose children had attended the district was against allowing guns in the schools.
"Mistakes are easily made when guns are involved," Carolyn Geddis said, according to the Daily Herald. "This is a ridiculous risk for my school district to take. I'm vehemently opposed to this."
Madison County Sheriff’s Deputy Kip Heinle is a spokesman for the Illinois School Resource Officers Association.
Deputy Heinle said that school resource officers are typically used in junior high and high schools. He said that the law allows retired police officers to be armed in grade schools if they are qualified via their previous police department or the state, the Daily Herald reported.
"Basically, what you're getting is an armed security guard," Heinle said.