The Glenwood School Board unanimously approved a resolution last Monday that will allow off-duty law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms while on school property.
The board voted 4-0 to approve a new policy that will require off-duty officers who plan to carry weapons on school property to first be approved by the school district. Existing policy allows only on-duty law enforcement to carry firearms on school property.
Glenwood Superintendent Devin Embray said the approval to carry while off-duty on school grounds would be given only to “full-time, certified peace officers in good standing with their agency to carry off-duty.”
“The Iowa codes states as long as they are on duty they can carry on school property,” Embray said. “When they’re not on duty is where the gray area was. So we wanted to clear that up and put a resolution in place to allow that.”
The board’s decision comes just three weeks after a former Glenwood police officer accidentally shot himself in the leg while in the parking lot at West Elementary School. Douglas Trent Good, who works as a firearms instructor and is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, was waiting in his vehicle to pick up his child at West when the gun discharged. Good was later arrested and charged with carrying a weapon on school grounds. Good is not an active duty law enforcement officer and would not have been allowed to carry a firearm on school property under the new resolution.
Embray said the shooting incident at West did raise some questions about what the district was doing to make the public and law enforcement aware of their concealed carry policy.
Embray said the approval process would consist of law enforcement personnel filing out a form supplied by the district which would then be approved by that officer’s supervising agency and then submitted to the district. The district then will contact those agencies to verify the officer is in good standing. The district will not be conducting further background checks and the permitted list will be re-verified by the district annually.
Several members of area law enforcement, including Glenwood Chief of Police Eric Johansen and Mills County Attorney Eric Hansen were in attendance at the school board meeting.
Johansen commended the school district on acting quickly to work with law enforcement and adopt the new resolution.
“The school board is being proactive to work with law enforcement to try and continue the security and safety of the students and staff at all the schools in their district,” he said.
Johansen said all of his officers plan to submit applications with the district as a “precaution.”
Embray said a significant number of law enforcement officers reside within the school district, and they could provide an added layer of protection and security at school district events.
The East Mills Community School District allows law enforcement to carrying on school district property whether on or off duty, according to Superintendent Paul Croghan.
“The policy does not address ‘on duty’ so that would need to be addressed by the individual departments that have jurisdiction in the school district,” Croghan said.
Fremont-Mills High School principal Jeremy Christiansen said the district’s policy allows only on-duty law enforcement officers to carry on school property.