Columbia schools revisiting policy to arm safety officers

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COLUMBIA - A revamped policy proposal could change the way Columbia public schools are protected.

The policy would allow two CPS district employees in the safety and security department to carry firearms.

CPS spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said if the proposal is passed, the two-armed employees would serve as an aid to the current Columbia police officers on staff in schools.

Columbia public schools currently have CPD officers with firearms on three campuses but the policy would allow CPS safety officers to respond with firearms to incident's compromising students' safety.

Eight schools have seen modified lockdowns this school year.:

  • September 19: Rock Bridge High School, Rock Bridge Elementary, Gentry Middle School and Columbia Area Career Center
  • September 17: Oakland Middle School.
  • September 26: Smithton Middle School and Paxton-Keeley Elementary School.
  • October 21: Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School

In the event of a modified lockdown, CPS officials lock classroom doors and refrain from allowing anyone inside the building when there is an immediate or imminent threat to the campus or the students.

Columbia Board of Education vice president and policy committee member Jim Whitt said if passed, the policy would increase safety measures for officers, students and faculty if saftey officers are the first to arrive on a scene.

"An active shooting incident is something that should be approached from a community perspective," Whitt said.

He said the policy is being revisited in an attempt to make sure everyone is safe.

"What we're doing is protecting students from someone that may come in," he said. "Are we really looking at the source of this?" We need to look at the whole situation to determine what best for our systems."

The policy committee plans to present the revisited policy to the Columbia School District in November.