(WWJ) – In the wake of this month’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he is open to the idea of some teachers being armed with guns in classrooms.
“Certainly, there should be a very thorough vetting process,” Craig said in an interview with WWJ’s Greg Bowman. “When I talk about vetting, I mean someone who is trained, someone who is responsible, the rigors associated with someone in a school environment. It could be an ex-military, ex-police officer; some of those folks are teachers, as an example.”
Craig likened the vetting process to that of airlines following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, in that some pilots — not all — are allowed to carry weapons after a vetting process.
“I think you can look at it through the same lens,” Craig said. “It’s sad that we have to have conversations about mass shootings in schools or in churches, but unfortunately that’s the world we live in, so I’ve been very vocal about this whole issue.”
Arming teachers could help reduce response time during school shootings, Craig said.
“One thing we do know with these mass shooting incidents, they happen within four and six minutes,” Craig said. “(When) the police have been notified, the fastest the police can be there is within a few minutes to eight minutes. So by that time, the unfortunate tragedies are there, the carnage has happened. So this is about the business of mitigating a threat. I would never suggest that every teacher should have a gun in a classroom, but it needs to be a vetting process.”
In response, state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) issued a statement disagreeing with Craig’s comments.
“I do not even know where to begin with the absurdity of Chief Craig’s assertion because it is an emotional, and ultimately not well-thought out response,” Gay-Dagnogo said. “Regardless of how well-trained any particular teacher or staff member may be, there is simply no evidence to support that they would be useful in that kind of situation. An educator’s excellence is dependent on the trust they build with their students, and it is impossible for any person that emotionally invested to predict how they would react if someone — especially, God forbid, one of their own students — walked into school with a gun.”
Another issue Gay-Dagnogo — and many opponents of the idea — brought up is where the funding would come from to arm teachers “when we’ve been told there isn’t money to fix schools that are quite literally falling apart.”
“As the leading law enforcement agent representing the city of Detroit, these type of statements are irresponsible,” Gay-Dagnogo said. “His message should reflect greater concern for children’s safety by lobbying for roofs that don’t crumble, heating that works, and by all means, the mental health services that our entire country can benefit from.”
Gay-Dagnogo said she is thankful for students across the country that are speaking out against gun violence in the wake of the Florida shooting, and took a stand for those students.
“As Chief Craig saw himself last month with the tragic death of Officer Doss, the good guy with the gun does not always win,” she said. “To propose that we preemptively bring weapons into school in the arms of our teachers is a knee-jerk reaction to a devastating and complicated issue. It is not what our students need, and I will continue to push back against anyone that says otherwise.
Meanwhile, Detroit Police Commissioner Willie Burton scheduled a press conference for Friday at 9 p.m. at a Detroit elementary school to discuss why he believes teachers should not be armed.