STOW, Ohio - In an effort to create another layer of school security, the Stow-Munroe Falls School District is allowing off-duty or retired police officers to carry concealed weapons on school grounds during after-hours events.
Superintendent Russ Jones said the measure, approved unanimously by the board last week, was a "no-brainer" and could be a deterrent to violence.
"If somebody wants to create an emergency situation at an event in the evening, they don't know if there's a retired officer there or an off-duty officer there who might be able to stop them," Jones said.
Stow Police Chief Louis Dirker said schools are gun-free zones except for on-duty officers. He pushed the school board for change when he learned Ohio law doesn't allow off-duty officers to carry their weapons into schools without board approval.
"Us not being able to carry weapons all the time is alarming to us for self-protection and the protection of the citizens," Dirker said.
Some aren't sure about extending the concealed carry exception to retired officers.
"It's kind of pushing the limits a little bit because they're retired," said Kyle Collins, a Stow High School senior.
However, Jones feels the more protection, the better.
"They're (retired officers) trained. They're certified. They've done it for a long time obviously," he said.
Seven police officers currently work in or patrol the schools in the Stow-Munroe Falls School District. That's four more officers than before the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.
"Sandy Hook was a game changer for all of us in education," Jones said.
Dirker said he's working with a state representative and the Fraternal Order of Police, hoping to change state law as it relates to officers carrying concealed weapons.
The chief believes off-duty and qualified retired officers should be allowed to carry guns into most places.