Veterans group offers armed school guards
ST. GEORGE — The Washington County School Board is considering an offer from a veterans group to provide armed guards for public schools.
“It doesn’t look like it’s a possibility right now,” says district spokesman Steve Dunham, who added that no final decision has been made.
The offer comes from the Vietnam Veterans of America Southern Utah Chapter 961. Public Information Officer Bruce Raftery made the pitch during a school board meeting last month.
“I thought it would be a good idea, because I worry about our kids,” Raftery told Utah’s Morning News on KSL NewsRadio.
Raftery says he went to the veterans group and had a strong response among members who had concealed weapons permits. Volunteers would undergo training, and shifts would depend on how many volunteers they get.
Legal ramifications could ultimately keep the plan from coming to fruition.
“We don’t know if it’s possible to accept the offer,” says Dunham. The school district consulted with police about the offer.
Regardless of the outcome, Dunham praises the veterans.
“They have a tremendous level of integrity and commitment that we wish more people would have in our country right now,” he added.
One alternative is that the veterans could fill a number of open positions for crossing guards.
“Our guys aren’t going to be crossing guards,” Raftery insisted. He also had a response for critics of his plan.
“They’ll be the same ones that’ll be in the school board’s face when one of their children or grandchildren get killed,” he warned.
The only thing both sides agree on right now is that they’ll continue to talk, and explore ways the veterans can help.
“In fact, we’re looking at ways that we can sit down with them and meet again,” says Dunham, who describes the offer as “sincere” and coming from a “dedicated group of individuals.”
“Yes, this is the beginning,” says Raftery, who is planning to meet with local lawmakers in Southern Utah as well.
Raftery made the pitch at an April 10 school board meeting and was told then the idea would be discussed at the county level.