Huntington ISD hiring more officers, considering gun policy

HUNTINGTON, TX (KTRE) - The Huntington ISD superintendent will be presenting a concealed gun policy for consideration at the next school board meeting later this month.

Dr. David Palmer, a member of the board, confirmed the board approved Dr. Eric Wright to present the policy in a unanimous decision. The board also approved, by a 6-1 vote, to allow the hiring of four additional officers to the police force, Palmer said. The police force currently only has one officer.

The board approved both measures in an emergency meeting held Thursday afternoon.

"He's just looking at what Van and other districts have done with a similar policy," Palmer said.

Wright said the board gave him approval to look into crafting a policy allow teachers to have concealed weapons on all four of the Huntington ISd campuses. He will be looking at policies from other schools that have already done this to see what will work for HISD.

He will show his findings to the board at the end of February. If it is approved, they will select a limited number of teachers to have weapons, meaning there could be one at each campus or two.

The teachers have to volunteer and pass several evaluation and an extensive criminal background check. They will also have to pass a mock simulation mass shooting with officers. This will be more extensive than what they learned for their CHL approval. They must pass this to be approved.

Huntington ISD was able to afford the hiring of four new police officers because they renegotiated their electricity contract this year and had left over funds.

"After the tragic event that happened in Connecticut, the board instructed us to get a panel together, a committee and we did it and it included over 80 years of law enforcement as well as administrators," said Mike Jenkins, the chief for the HISD police department.

The new officers will have to have at least eight years of active police duty and any officer can apply for the positions. The district will have active shooter training with ALERRT this summer, and the new officers will be required to participate.

Van ISD passed a policy in January in which some staff can carry a concealed handgun following rigorous training from law enforcement.

Michael Graham, a parent of two HISD students, says he doesn't have a problem with the potential concealed weapon policy for teachers and school staff.

"I don't mind any citizen being armed, including teachers if they have to do that to protect our kids and protect themselves and protect our schools," Graham said.

Huntington ISD's next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 25.

Copyright 2013 KTRE. All rights reserved.