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I-Team: School Security Guards
(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Newschannel 3 I-Team continues to investigate how safe students are inside our local schools.
As we told you on Newschannel 3 Live at 5:00, we uncovered new information about the school security guards hired to protect our children that may surprise you.
As a result of our investigation, lawmakers are springing into action.
One might automatically assume, as we did, that there are training standards for the people who are protecting our children at school.
We found that's not the case, and as a result of our investigation, lawmakers are looking to fix what they see as a problem.
At Lakeview Middle School in 2010, we watched some pretty stiff training by law enforcement officers on how to respond to a potential emergency in a school, such as a gunman on campus.
However, there was something missing--school security guards, the ones on the front line of any major school emergency, weren't pictured.
As we looked into the issue, we found that there are no minimum training standards for those hired in as guards.
There's an interesting back story to the issue, we found--one of the likely reasons the topic has never been legislated is because the training, if mandated, might constitute an unfunded mandate to schools, which as we discussed in our bullying investigation, is illegal for lawmakers to do.
Critics say that yet again, on behalf of the youngest in our community, its a case of government getting in the way of government.
In Virginia, for example, there is a law professionalizing school security guards, with a minimum of 36 hours of training.
A handful of states around the country have similar standards.
The training teaches guards crisis management and response, student management, ways to deescalate student fights, and provides a way for new guards to shadow those who have experience.
In Grand Rapids, we actually found that district leaders strictly document 120 hours of training for their guards, even though the state doesn't require it.
Security Director Larry Johnson can't understand why at least four days of training can't be mandated to help these people.
When we took Johnson's concerns to the State Department of Education, we didn't get a ringing endorsement for new standards, but the belief that it would cost schools money, and that lawmakers would have to make the necessary change.
Ultimately, we took the issue to lawmakers, and Senator Tonya Schuitmaker said she would put a bill request in after our prompting, to set a new standard of 60 hours of training for the people who are taking care of our kids, in preparation for a worst-case scenario.
"I feel it's very important to have a well-trained security guard," Senator Schuitmaker said. "It's not a mandate to put security guards in every school, but if you are going to have that extra effort, then I think you want somebody who's properly trained."
As the discussion continues about safety, many of the experts tell us the issues the I-Team has uncovered, investigated, and addressed over the course of these investigations are some of the simple fixes that can be done to help our kids.