A Closer Look at the Debate About Arming Security Guards in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools

Center School, Old Lyme (Credit: CT Examiner)


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LYME-OLD LYME — The results of an online forum to collect feedback, shared with CT Examiner, offer a closer look at community responses prior to the Board of Education decision to arm security guards in the district schools. 

Before a Wednesday meeting of the Board of Education, the district requested that parents, district staff and students participate in a “ThoughtExchange” experiment, which allows people to offer comments and rate the comments of other people.  

About 420 people participated in the experiment. 83 percent were parents, 15 percent staff and three percent students. According to a graph Neviaser presented at the Board of Education meeting, a third party organizing the comments found that about half were in favor of arming the security guards, with the rest saying they were against the proposal, making alternative suggestions or making off-topic comments. 

Below is a sampling of the comments

Comments in favor:  

  • “Armed security guards could make a difference and be a deterrent. It is vital to have a quick response with an active shooter.” 

  • “I agree that arming all three campuses will add another layer of security to schools. Possibly a retired trooper, air marshal or SWAT officer. We have an obligation to assure the staff and students are protected at all times. Unfortunately, times have changed and we must adapt to it.” 

  • “I agree response time is an issue for our schools given how far away the state police are.” 

  • “I strongly support this idea. The response/reactionary time is important in saving lives. I am a law enforcement officer. I train in the response to active shooters.” 

Comments against:

  • “As a student the thought of having guns on campus worries me. The thought of guns on campus makes me more worried/afraid than safe. Other non-lethal methods would be better.” 

  • “I think that it is completely unnecessary and will be harmful. Studies show that having an armed guard at schools does not prevent shootings. Having armed guards will not have the effect the board is looking for, and poses a risk for minority students. The school-to-prison pipeline is real.” 

  • “This is insanity. The answer to gun violence is not more guns.” 

  • “We all want our kids to be safe. But responding to gun violence by introducing more guns feeds the problem, rather than diminishing it. Arming school personnel opens the door to mistakes, misunderstanding and poor judgment among the armed, a far greater danger than active shooters.” 

Comments addressing training and mental health:

  • “It seems important to have more training on awareness of disaffected students and/or those who feel they don’t belong or are so quiet no one notices. These are the kinds of students that perpetrate the gun violence. There are warning signs, but people don’t seem to be seeing them. Education is needed.” 

  • “Hire/train more counselors! District 18 staying more closely connected with the mental health of these kids could exponentially add to safety.” 

  • “It is incredibly sad that we are even considering this issue. I reluctantly support employing armed guards, but also support a curriculum of empathy. Employing armed guards will not solve the underlying problem of hate, fear and mistrust currently affecting this country.”

Comments asking for other security measures:

  • “If we are saying that gun violence should be taken so seriously that we should arm guards, what other systems and strategies are being put in place? Has building design be[en] addressed? [Mile Creek] has glass at the entry that could easily be shot/broken allowing active shooter full reign of the building.” 

  • “What is the district already doing to deter gun violence in schools? Arming guards is only one solution and a much larger plan needs to be implemented.”

  • “More importantly – ONE point of entry, with security guard AT ALL TIMES; ID cards and sign in for families (who should be welcome at ALL times). More adults, more monitoring (with 100% focus by the guard at the door.” 

  • “Has a security risk assessment been completed? What were the findings? This can help build strategies for keeping inhabitants safer.”

Comments requesting more time: 

  • “A decision as momentous as putting guns in our children’s schools must be put to a referendum, not rushed through a BoE meeting with a month’s notice. This impacts everyone.” 

  • “This feels reactive and rushed – a bandaid to make people feel better. In reality, our schools should be advocating for stricter gun laws to keep our community safe.”

Emilia Otte

Emilia Otte covers health and education for the Connecticut Examiner. In 2022 Otte was awarded "Rookie of the Year," by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.