School Safety Program- Sheriff Slaughter weighs in with an Update
Sheriff Jesse Slaughter introduced on air for the first time a school safety program that he has designed that would put armed coverts in schools as a safety program to protect our kids, teachers and administrators. The safety program was a major topic of conversation with much support, but as many questions. Five months later and some of the questions have been answered, but there is still work to do. Sheriff Slaughter visited with Pat & Randy and gave this update interview on the program we titled “Guns in Schools”
Sheriff Slaughter: I don't want to just dismiss it as a gun in the school. Its way more comprehensive security plan than that. But we have to do something. We have to get serious about it. And the voters spoke. They passed the levy. And a lot of the feedback that I got was one of the biggest reasons that the levy passed was because of this portion of the levy was protecting children. And it's important, and it's up to each individual school. It's how they choose to do that. But I wanted a funding mechanism, and I also wanted to say that, hey, I will help. We will give you resources, we will give you training. We will give you whatever you want to make sure that your program is successful. There's naysayers out there that have said, well, that's huge liability for the county. If you've looked at what the Uvalde (TX) public safety is paying out right now, it's insane. It's millions and millions and millions of dollars. It doesn't matter. If you don't do the right thing, you're going to pay. If you do the right thing, you're going to pay. It doesn't matter. But let's start focusing less on the liability and focus on children that are in a safe environment where they can learn and be left alone to do that.
What school districts can you mention? Any that are interested and may take you up on this.
Sheriff Slaughter: So all the rural school districts are interested. I think there's people in the Great Falls Public Schools that are super interested. The politics and the Great Falls Public School is just a lot different. It's a lot bigger. They also really rely on the Great Falls Police Department to help them provide all that security. That's kind of their go-to partnership, which is great. I respect that. To each their own. We're going to offer up some services, and then each individual school board can decide on how they want to conduct this. My philosophy is I will tailor to whoever wants the service and how they want the service, and it still has to be approved by any school board. In Montana, the governing school board is kind of its own government for that individual school, which is great. That means that the parents give feedback to the elected officials that are school board members, and they make a decision on how they want things to go.
Sheriff, one of the things that was pointed out to us last year is the county commissioners determine how that levy money is divvied out. Are you seeing any pushback from our current commissioners on providing the funds to do what you want to do?
Sheriff Slaughter: Not yet, but the money hasn't been put into the coffers yet. There hasn't been a ton of discussion about it because although the money has been approved, it doesn't really exist yet. I imagine this spring and summer, for sure, we will start those planning phases. We also have the deputy’s contract that has to be resolved for the pay. And the deputy county attorney's salaries that have to be resolved, too. Those are actually up right now, so I think those could probably get done first and then we'll move into those plans on the school safety and also on the pretrial services.
How soon could we see this happen in a school district in Cascade County?
Sheriff Slaughter: I'm really hoping at the latest that it's when school opens in the fall. I'm hoping that's what the goal we shoot for and we get something into place moving forward. I have a feeling it's going to probably get implemented. Like one or two schools will implement a program, then two or three more will jump on. I think it's going to probably be implemented in steps. That's how I kind of just from talking to several different school boards, talking to different communities, I think that's how it's going to go.
You got a grant to buy the initial packages or the units for the start up? Have you started doing training so that there's officers ready a grant?
Sheriff Slaughter: The Sheriff's Legacy Foundation purchased equipment, a lot of different equipment for the program. Yes, that's purchased. So that part it's kind of nice that that part is set aside, done, already ready to go. There's a lot to it, and quite honestly, we have to sit down with the commissioners and figure out which model we're going to go by or are we going to do a hybrid? Is one school going to have a model different than another school? So there's a lot more discussion that has to occur on this. But yes. Randy, a bunch of the startup equipment was already purchased. A lot of people are just waiting to say, okay, when's the actual money going to be there? Because I think they're a little nervous about committing to something because for them, they would be promising their constituents, which would be the kids parents, this is going to happen. And then if the money isn't delivered so that's the unknown.
To read the original article written in September of 2022, click here
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Safety is our schools is a very important topic, but also a very heavy topic. Enjoy these sunrise pictures from Pat Frisch to help lighten the mood.