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Iowa school district considers police officers

IOWA CITY (AP) — The Iowa City school district may consider putting armed police officers in high schools and junior high schools, though officials say they’ll weigh public input before making a final decision.

The Iowa City Community School District said it’s been talking with local law enforcement about adding school resource officers, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. They would be employed by the Iowa City Police Department but work extensively with the schools.

“We certainly would want to have a role in the interview process for an officer — find someone who has an interest in and ability to interact with students on our campuses,” said Superintendent Steve Murley.

A grant program could pay for two school resource officers to split their time between six secondary schools.

Under the current policy, police officers are not assigned to specific schools but respond to school calls and make other non-emergency stops.

The deadline for the grant application is approaching, but the district could forgo applying. School Board President Marla Swesey said at a Tuesday board meeting that it will seek community opinion, and there’s no timeline for making a decision.

“There are a lot of things to iron out still. ... I think it’s come so fast that we really need to hear from a lot of people,” she said.

Julie VanDyke, a parent and former school board candidate, said guns might not prevent a tragedy.

She noted that armed Iowa City officers near the University of Iowa in 1991 weren’t able to stop a graduate student from killing five people on campus.

“I don’t want any guns in the school. I don’t want police with guns in the schools,” VanDyke said. “... What’s the gun going to do when something happens and gets shot in a crowded hallway? What happens when one of those (officers) shoots one of our students who gets violent?”

The consideration is part of a broader push to improve safety procedures in the district. Officials have started updating doors, cameras, locks and other safety infrastructures.

More employees also are being trained to know how to respond to dangerous situations.

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