Hamilton schools to allow armed teachers, random metal detector checks of students this fall

HAMILTON, Ohio -- Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, who vowed to be the "worst enemy" of school districts that declined to make security upgrades he believed would deter mass shootings, got his way with the Hamilton City School District Wednesday. 

The district will allow qualified staffers to come to school armed beginning in the fall, according to the Journal-News, and students will be subject to random checks with handheld metal detectors. 

"We are coordinating both of these with Hamilton Police," superintendent Larry Knapp, who met with Jones and Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit, told the Journal-News. "We also discussed ideas of how to implement additional safety practices, which we all agreed would enhance our safety efforts."

Jones, a longtime advocate for allowing school staffers to carry concealed weapons, had launched a campaign of public pressure against the school district by helping to fund a billboard that questioned its dedication to protecting students. The billboard, which appeared in downtown Hamilton, read:

HAMILTON SCHOOL BOARD

SAFE???

SECURE??

TRANSPARENT?

Jones told the Journal-News in March he planned to wage similar billboard battles against other Butler County school districts he believed were not protecting students adequately. The topic of school safety -- and whether adding armed staff or resource officers really improves it -- has been prominent in the American consciousness since Valentine's Day, when a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, entered the building and opened fire on his former classmates.

Hamilton City Schools already employed armed resource officers before Wednesday, but teachers were not allowed to carry weapons in school. Those who arrive with hip holsters in the fall will need clean background checks and certification in firearm operations to do so, Knapp said, and those with law enforcement and military training will be given preference.

Knapp described the meeting as "very positive and productive" and said Jones seemed "happy with what we currently have in place."

The Journal-News is a news partner of WCPO.

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