Hee: Allow schools to decide on arming security officers

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former state senator who is hoping to be Hawaii's next governor is offering his plan to prevent gun violence at schools.

Clayton Hee is proposing that the state Department of Education allow schools to decide whether to have armed security officers.

He made it clear he's opposed to President Trump's proposal to arm school teachers.

"Education and students should be highest priority and safety should be the absolute highest priority," said Hee.

In 2000, the state Department of Education established a safety management program in which a former retired law enforcement officer was placed at 25 selected campuses.

Back then, they weren't armed, but a federal law passed in 2004 now allows them to be.

"It's simple. If the DOE would look at a program using federal law and I believe federal funds now, because of the proliferation of guns shootings at campuses," Hee said.

Massacres at mainland schools have sparked gun control debates in all states.

The idea of arming any personnel on a school campus doesn't sit well with Gov. David Ige.

"Our schools are weapon-free zones and I do believe that's the safest for everyone involved," Ige said.

Ige touts his success with fighting for tougher gun laws in the nation.

He says Hawaii is the only state to take on the NRA and require more rigorous FBI background checks for gun owners.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who's also challenging Ige for governor, recently joined an effort to expand background checks and firmly believes passing tougher gun control laws at the federal level is the best way to prevent gun violence.

Campbell High School Teacher Christine Russo doesn't disagree with the idea of having an armed officer on campus, but says that's just the beginning of the discussion.

"It's a multi-faceted issue so we need to look at multifaceted solutions," said Russo.

Russo is asking the DOE to follow FEMA's school emergency operations plans to ensure all students and educators are well-trained to deal with potential active shooter situations.

"My concern is having piece meal solutions," Russo said. "We need to have a comprehensive solution statewide, based on federal recommendations."

In a statement Sunday, the state Department of Education said it "values its partnership with law enforcement and continues to look at ways to improve upon our current safety preparedness measures.It is important as a community we continue to encourage and support our students in ways that are not based on fear."

The teachers union said it wont provide comment until it sees actual legislation, specific details and costs of Hee's proposal.

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