Deputy weighs in about arming teachers at school: ‘It’s a really touchy subject’

LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- A Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy says he sees it too much now -- fear and concern on the faces of students, teenagers wondering if their school will be the target of the next shooting.

Sgt. Craig White spends a lot of his day going from school to school overseeing other deputies spread out across Snohomish County schools.

“My biggest fear is that we are going to have a school incident at one of the schools here in the county,” White said.

He’s still emotionally recovering from being one of the very first in 2014 to rush to Marysville Pilchuck High School, where four students were gunned down in the cafeteria by a 15-year-old, who then killed himself.

“It’s heartbreaking and I don’t want to see that happen again here,” White said.

But it’s an event they are constantly training for.

White says if there was a school shooting, his school resource officers are trained to act.

“Address the threat and, if necessary, eliminate that threat,” White said.

That means an SRO is trained to confront the gunman even alone.

But how does White feel about all the talk about arming teachers?

“It’s a really touchy subject,” White says.

He understands the sentiment behind the idea, but his biggest concern is that if teachers are armed and going after a bad guy, police officers flooding the scene soon after may not be able to tell who is who.

“We need to take a step back and take a look at the situation,” White says.

What he does know for sure is that more students are approaching SROs with concerns lately.

“We have kids who come up to SROs discreetly, daily telling them the goings on at the school, what’s happening, 'I heard a rumor,'” White says.

If they aren’t investigating possible threats, they are brainstorming with school administrators.

“School districts are constantly looking at door knobs, door locks, intruder drills. I don’t think the public understands how much work goes into keeping kids safe,” White says.

The deputy says he doesn’t have all the answers but he knows this much.

“I think the country is fed up with school shootings and they want something done. But I think if the government comes forward and says, 'We are going to help finance these issues or help subsidize a police officer at every school', it could be a start,” White says.

In Snohomish County right now, the school districts are the ones who pay for SROs.