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WDC: Guards, weapons training unlikely at local schools

Students gather near the entrance of Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School on Thursday. School officials said changes to the security procedures at the school, such as armed guards or weapons training for teachers, were unnecessary. Photo by Zach Kayser, Pioneer Journal

After recent shootings sparked national discussions regarding the use of armed officers and weapons training in America's schools, personnel from Wadena-Deer Creek Schools maintain such changes are unnecessary in their local buildings.

"The area principals I've been talking to, there's been the discussion of armed security measures and things like that," said WDC Middle/High School Principal Tyler Church. "For the most part, schools are kind of doing what they've done in the past. The armed personnel on site, we just don't really feel like that's the route we should be going at this point."

Church added that the school's security is similar to how it's been in the past.

"We really haven't changed our security," he said. "Obviously, children's safety is our No. 1 priority, but in terms of specifically what we're doing at the school, we're just making sure our staff and students are updated and reminded of what to do in emergency situations, maybe practice our drills a little bit more..."

Church said local police have a substantial presence at WDC schools in the course of their normal duties, which center on making sure that students know the police are there to help them.

"(Wadena Police Chief) Bruce Uselman makes it a point to stop in just to see how we're doing, just so kids can see that he's in the building," Church said. "(Sergeant) Naomi Plautz, she's in here quite often as well, just so kids know that we have that connection with the police."

Plautz said if armed guards or teacher weapons training were to be proposed, there would be a number of variables to consider.

Questions Plautz raised were, "Are you talking an armed security officer, or are you talking a licensed police officer? Arming your teachers with guns, or other weapons, or self-defense tactics?"

No major changes are expected at the elementary school as well.

WDC Elementary Principal Louis Rutten said specific existing security measures at the elementary school include having only one door for public entry into the facility, with the exception of a monitored door near the preschool area.

"We're pretty secure with our procedures as they were," Rutten said.