EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 22, 2012

Plan to arm cops in every school rejected

On a day when Haverhill police were riding shotgun on school buses, a proposal by the nation’s leading gun lobby to put armed cops in every school drew fire from parents, teachers, administrators and even some cops themselves, who dismissed the idea as an unaffordable knee-jerk diversion from what they said is the real issue: gun control.

The issue of guns in schools was electrified locally on Wednesday — a week after a gunman killed 26 kindergartners and staff at a Connecticut school — when someone fired BB pellets at two school buses, one carrying 3- and 4-year-olds to a Head Start program in Haverhill and another high school students. Windows shattered, but no one was injured.

Yesterday, Haverhill Superintendent of Schools James Scully said neither the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., or the blown-out windows in his own school buses convinced him that more armed cops are needed in his schools.

“At this time, people should settle down, review what’s going on and come up with a reasonable strategy,” Scully said. “But a knee-jerk reaction of putting people with guns in schools — I’m not sure that’s the right response.”

Scully said unarmed guards trained to deal with school security issues patrol Haverhill schools, but armed police officers do not.

Armed police patrol school buildings in several other Merrimack Valley school districts, including three or four assigned to the Lawrence High School complex.

John Romero, the city’s police chief, said cops in schools are a good idea because they “interact with kids and get to know them,” but he said putting one in every school is unaffordable.

“We have 22 or 23 public schools in Lawrence, not including the charter schools,” Romero said. “With our current resources, we couldn’t do it. I think you’ll get that (reaction) from any city or town.”

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