There have been 182 mass shootings in America in 2018 so far, according to the Gun Violence Archive, happening at office buildings and arts festivals, and perhaps most notably, schools.
“It’s a shame that we live in the times that we do and things are happening across the country as they are,” said Kirk Smith, superintendent of Susquenita School District.
This is leaving school officials across the country, including at Susquenita School District in Perry County to face the tough reality- schools just aren’t as safe as they used to be.
“To sit back and think that this is never going to happen at Susquenita just doesn’t equate anymore,” said Smith.
And now, some schools are working to combat any potential danger.
Susquenita School District is the first in Perry County, and one of a handful in Central Pennsylvania, adding armed guards to their hallways this upcoming school year.
“Being able to respond as quickly as possible and react as quickly as possible to any type of incident, such as a shooting at a school district, is critical,” said Smith.
There will be one guard on campus during school hours, and another that will patrol on an as-needed basis if there is an after school activity, like a dance or sporting event.
The guards will be hired through a risk assessment and security company called INA, and John Sancenito, president of the company, says this is something he is seeing more and more.
“Five years ago if you would have told me there would be armed guards at schools, I would have laughed at you,” said Sancenito.
Now, Sancenito has a stack of proposals on his desk from several school districts in Central Pennsylvania seeking advice on the best ways to stay safe.
In many situations, he says adding armed guards is a no-brainer.
“You have armed guards at courthouses, you have armed guards at social security offices. You have armed guards at businesses. I think our children are our most precious resource,” said Sancenito.
Especially in rural areas, where a response time from police may be longer.
This is perhaps the case for Susquenita School District, whose local police force recently shut down.
“God forbid there was an incident here, we could save a couple of lives or any life because of the quick response of having somebody on campus, how do you put a value on that?” said Smith.
All guards have a history in law enforcement, and will go through extensive training before being placed in a school.
Superintendent Smith says the addition of the guards was built into this year’s school budget, and will come at no extra cost to tax payers.