School security: National expert criticizes programs like Madison’s arming of staffers as ‘so narrowly focused’

A national school safety expert tells the Journal-News he is no fan of Madison Schools’ arming staffers.

Nor, he said, of Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, who endorses Madison’s leading role among Southwest Ohio school districts in allowing teachers and other personnel quick access to firearms.

Ken Trump, president of who is president of the National School Safety and Security Services located in Cleveland, said focusing on repelling gun attacks with more guns is a plan doomed to fail.

The Journal-News investigated school security in Butler County and the region for a special report that published in the Sunday newspaper. Click here to view the front page from Sunday, and here's a look at what the Journal-News found: 
• Court docs detail Madison's armed staffer program, but one parent is worried about 'inadequate training'
• Offense or defense? The growing fight over fortifying school security
• How 5 area districts are changing to improve their staffing and methods

“There are many proven best practices for school safety, security, and emergency preparedness - none of which involve arming school staff,” he said. “And the politically charged context fueled by the Butler County sheriff's agenda for arming school staff appears to be divisive and counter to the best practice of building a collaborative school-community approach to comprehensive school safety planning.”

Trump added his voice to critics of Madison schools’ recently judge-approved security program of arming up to 10 staffers at its kindergarten-12th grade campus in rural Butler County.

“It is unfortunate that the conversations around school safety in Madison schools is so narrowly focused on arming school staff,” said Trump.

The best way for schools to protect their students and staff is not through becoming a more “hardened target,” he said, but through putting more money, counseling, resources and personnel into improving the mental health state of schools.

“During the past half-dozen or so years, I have done an increasing amount of expert witness and litigation consulting on preK-12 school security-related lawsuits. These types of cases have included high-profile active shooter cases, such as my retention by the defense for the Sandy Hook Elementary School litigation, as well as rape and other sexual assault, child abduction, gang-related assaults, and other safety matters,” said Trump.

“While the facts and merits of each case vary, one common thread across the board is that the allegations tend to be on claims of failures of people, policies, procedures, and/or systems, not alleged failures of security hardware and products (including guns),” he said.

“Yet some still advocate for a skewed focus on target hardening while neglecting the time and resources needed to spend on professional development training, planning, behavioral and mental health intervention supports for students, and other best practices. Research and experience consistently shows that a comprehensive approach is needed for school safety programs,” said Trump.

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