CMPD Chief, CMS Superintendent not in favor of arming school teachers

Updated: Feb. 26, 2018 at 11:48 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox sat down together Monday night to discuss school safety.

The conversation was broadcast over Facebook Live as a part of CMPD's Straight Talk conversation series. CMPD spokesperson Rob Tufano served as a moderator for the discussion that lasted about 30 minutes.

The segment focused heavily on the deadly school shooting that happened in Parkland, Florida and the nationwide reaction it has been eliciting from public safety officials, school administrators and lawmakers.

"I felt bad for all the kids that were innocent bystanders. I felt bad for the first responders that had to come up on that scene. It was just horrific. It was not something you'd want to see in a school," said Wilcox.

Putney spoke about the importance of being proactive and preventing a school shooting.

"Words are weighing on people. They want to see work. They want to see action," said Putney.

The police chief spoke about how he wasn't a fan of the political arguments that had arisen from the tragedy. He said he likes to look at situations from a public safety perspective.

"It's about how you can professionally make decisions that make people safer," said Putney.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, President Donald Trump has suggested arming certain school teachers as a deterrent to mass shootings. Both Putney and Wilcox are opposed to the idea.

"I just don't think adding more guns to an already volatile situation makes sense. I think it confuses the situation for an officer who has to respond," said Wilcox.

Putney said guns shouldn't be allowed in classrooms in any capacity.

"I don't think you should have guns in classrooms. That doesn't make sense to me because we had 800 guns stolen last year and where are you going to secure them. It's a practical matter," explained the police chief.

Putney also spoke about how officers should respond to a shooting at a school. A former deputy in Broward County, Florida has been ridiculed for failing to confront the school shooter in Parkland, Florida.

President Trump said Monday that he would have searched for the shooter had he been a deputy at the school.

"I really believe I'd run in there even if I didn't have a weapon," said Trump.

Putney said Monday that law enforcement officers tasked with policing schools should be ready to confront a threat.

"We have to have a warrior spirit that you're going to go in and neutralize this threat. You can't stand by and let life after life get snuffed out because you're afraid," said Putney.

Putney noted that the school safety conversations were nothing new in Charlotte. He said now local leaders need to discuss potential funding and staffing adjustments that will ensure student safety. 

"Regardless of politics we're trying to do the right thing and I can lean on (Wilcox) to carry that same message so we're consistently trying to do what's best for our students," said Putney.

The group also discussed utilizing retired officers for school security, methods to secure portable classrooms and the lockdown drills that CMS students currently practice.

The entire conversation can be found on the CMPD Facebook page.

Members of the public are encouraged to send in questions through the comments section of the video.

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