enforcement officers -- when not in the line of duty -- be allowed to carry firearms in our schools?
The debate – heavily leaning in favor of a resounding yes – has been raging on Patch’s Facebook page since last week when John Paulding’s new principal Maureen Barnett issued this email and robo-call to parents.
This afternoon a kindergarten student was picked
up by a family member, who is a member of a law enforcement agency. This police
officer walked into the building with her gun on
its issued holder. We are sending out this message to our community to remind
all family members who are law enforcement agents to please secure your firearm
before coming into our school building.
Please note that at no time during this pick up were any students, staff or family members in danger. This is just a gentle reminder that our community workers, who carry firearms as a part of their service, must secure their firearms before coming into our school.
Thank you very much.
Superintendent Dr. Christopher Clouet, also in his first season here, was quick to say he stood with Barnett on this message. He made it clear that no one was harmed or threatened in any way on Wednesday, Oct. 2 when a Greenwich, CT police officer picked up her family member from the kindergarten in full uniform and a gun in her holster.
“She was all business and picked up her relative without incident,” Clouet said. However, after the fact, Clouet said he heard from some concerned parents.
“They were upset by seeing an officer with a gun,” he said. Part of the alarm likely stemmed from the fact that the woman was in a uniform parents didn’t recognize, he said, some unsure if it was even a legitimate uniform at all.
Clouet has since spoken with both Sleepy Hollow Police Chief Gregory Camp and Tarrytown Chief Scott Brown about their policies for gun-toting on-duty and off-.
Chief Camp of Sleepy Hollow said:
- Officers on duty and in uniform carry firearm visible on duty belt. On duty plain clothes officers carry weapon concealed under a garment, such jacket, etc. and if visibly displayed, have police badge prominently displayed. Off duty officers may carry weapon concealed under garment.
Chief Brown of Tarrytown said:
- A uniformed Tarrytown Police Officer is required to carry his/her duty weapon on the belt, visible at all times. An officer on duty in plain clothes (i.e. an administrative officer, detective or an officer on a special assignment) has the weapon covered with a sport coat, suit jacket, sweater or some type of garment. In the absence of a covering garment a plain clothes officer that displays a weapon will have his/her police identification (shield) also displayed next to the weapon. An off-duty officer should have his personally-owned weapon covered at all times.
Clouet clarified that his concerns with weapons in the schools doesn’t really apply to our local officers, with whom the administration has a very good relationship and have had no such gun issues. “They are our colleagues; we are all public servants; we are pro-law-enforcement,” Clouet said. So much so, he added, that Barnett's husband has for many decades been a NYPD sergeant.
“We are just trying to do the right thing and not have guns in our kindergarten,” Clouet said. “We are asking as a matter of courtesy that law enforcement not in the line of duty refrain from bringing weapons into the building.”
As part of state school code, no person alone or with others can have a weapon except law enforcement officers. Clouet said that while the officer did nothing officially wrong, this is NY State law for NY law enforcement which he sees as not equally applying to a CT officer.
Clouet said he has no intent to tweak the code, but he does ask that Barnett’s informal request be honored district-wide.