District To Consider Allowing Off-duty Officers To Carry Guns On School Property

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By Joe Foreman, Editor

Glenwood Community School District Superintendent Devin Embray said he supports establishing a protocol that would allow off-duty law enforcement officers to carry firearms on school district property.

Currently, only officers who are part of a contractual program with the school district, like D.A.R.E. instructors from the Iowa State Patrol and the Glenwood Police Department’s  truancy officer, are exempt from the state code and permitted to bring firearms onto school grounds. Any person who doesn’t have permission from the district and is found to be in possession of a gun on school property is subject to a Class D felony charge, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine between $750-$7,500. 

Embray said he expects the Glenwood Board of Education to consider a policy that would allow peace officers to submit an application to the school district for permission to carry a weapon on school district grounds, even when they’re off duty or out of uniform.

Embray said a significant number of law enforcement officers reside within the school district. Some are officers with the Glenwood Police Department and Mills County Sheriff’s Office and some are employed at other law enforcement agencies. These officers, Embray believes, could provide added protection and security at school district activities.

“I guess what I’m saying is that we want those individuals to be able to help protect us if something happened at a function or in a school building, whether they’re on duty or off duty,” Embray said. “It would just have to be a protocol where they would have to apply to the district and we would have to approve them. We have nothing in place right now. We would have to develop protocol and take it to the board.”

Embray said the policy he has in mind would only apply to full-time law enforcement officers, not every individual who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

“It would be up to the board, but at this time, it would be my recommendation not to open it up to anyone outside of law enforcement,” he said. “Now, as far as everybody out there that’s got a concealed weapons permit or concealed firearms permit, not that I’m against them in any way or that I think they’re less capable or incapable, it’s just that at this point in time, I think we want to limit it to law enforcement.”

Embray said the issue is likely to be a topic of discussion for the school board as a result of a Jan. 24 shooting incident on the playground parking lot at West Elementary School. The parent of a West student accidentally shot himself in the leg while waiting in a vehicle for his child after school. The parent, a former police officer, is now facing a felony charge.

“This incident has kind of brought to light how the district wants to approach the matter,” Embray said. 

Embray said he wants the school district to continue having a strong, positive relationship with the law enforcement community and pointed out that the person involved in the accidental shooting is not a law enforcement officer.

“The incident that happened was not a law enforcement issue,” Embray said. “This was a person who had a concealed permit to carry and was not a peace officer.”