Hamilton Schools to arm staff, add metal detectors

One of Butler County’s largest school systems has agreed to arm staffers and use metal detectors on students after a meeting today with Sheriff Richard Jones and Hamilton’s police chief, the Journal-News has exclusively learned.

Just days after Jones posted a billboard in downtown Hamilton blasting city school officials for lax building security, school officials announced they will allow qualified staffers in schools to have access to firearms during the coming school year.

Hamilton school officials, Jones and Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit met Wednesday and all sides described it as a positive meeting that will upgrade security for the 10,000-student district.

Jones told the Journal-News that he is pleased with the enhanced security measures and those will make “Hamilton schools the safest district in the region if not the state.”

Jones, a long-time advocate for allowing qualified school staffers access to handguns to better protect students from armed attackers, said the historic changes are needed.

“Bucheit and I are in agreement,” said Jones, who earlier this year offered free Conceal Carry Warrant arms training to Butler County teachers as he publicly pressured local school districts to allow armed personnel in school buildings.

Hamilton Schools, which already have a rotation of armed school resource officers supplied by Hamilton Police, will become the second district in the county — along with rural Madison Schools — to allow firearm access to trained school staffers.

Hamilton Schools Superintendent Larry Knapp said, “we are all in agreement” after Wednesday’s meeting with Jones and Bucheit.


School staffers — which could include building administrators and teachers — will have to pass a series of qualifying hurdles to be eligible to have access to a firearm during the school day, said Knapp.

Staffers who are former law enforcement officers or military personnel with experience and certification in firearm operations will primarily comprise the candidate pool to have access to the weapons while working in schools, he said.

Criminal and other background checks will be also be required, Knapp said, and re-qualifications will be required periodically and closely monitored.

The use of metal detectors on students is another first for Hamilton Schools.

Knapp said the hand-held metal detectors — or “wands” — will be deployed “unannounced and randomly” during school days at buildings.

After Wednesday’s meeting, Knapp said, “I think the meeting was very positive and productive. We were able to share our comprehensive district wide safety plan with Sheriff Jones and he indicated that he was happy with what we currently have in place.”

“We also discussed ideas of how to implement additional safety practices, which we all agreed would enhance our safety efforts. I am glad we had the chance to meet and I feel we took a good step today toward communicating our safety efforts with the Sheriff’s office,” said Knapp.

“We are coordinating both of these (security changes) with Hamilton Police,” he said.

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