SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (KCAU) — In August, the Spirit Lake Community School District school board passed a resolution that would allow anonymous staff members to carry weapons in their buildings. Since then, the district created an Emergency Response Plan.
Feedback on the proposal has been mixed. Just this week, the chief of the Spirit Lake Police Department sent a letter to members of the Spirit Lake Community School District (SLCSD) making it clear that he does not approve of the district’s plan to arm staff members.
In the four-page letter, Chief Shane Brevik listed numerous reasons why he believes the plan to arm school staff is a dangerous one that he is not on board with.
“It isn’t possible to list all the ways that individuals who can’t be adequately prepared for an active shooter situation may make a situation worse,” Brevik said in his letter.
During an SLCSD board meeting on November 14, the plan was presented by Superintendant David Smith along with a number of other staff members. The plan is due to be voted upon in a special meeting on November 28. The plan is being developed after the board approved a resolution in August to arm staff members.
The full plan, which included the portions about armed staff members, is available on the district’s website. Community members can submit comments until the meeting on November 28 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or requesting a meeting.
In the letter, Brevik explained how the claim that he supported the plan came about. He said he had a brief discussion over the summer with Smith and Angela Olsen, the school district’s director of learning and development. He offered some feedback, he said, but the plan was in its infancy and not enough was known for him to form an opinion of the plan. A few weeks later he received a text saying the plan had passed and the text asked if the plan had his support. Only a few hours later a press release was sent out which indicated he supported the move.
“That was not true and I’d never fully supported anything,” he told the school board in the letter.
Brevik claimed that the plan was trying to equate a few hours of training that the armed staff members receive to the four-month-long training program officer candidates get at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA). He said the staff members received some basic concealed carry training and while the training may have been comprehensive it was also brief.
The content of ILEA training is available online. The training course for the armed staff members was to be based on what ILEA officers receive, Brevik said, however, that even if the training was the same it cannot be compared to what is taught by law enforcement professionals.
He pointed to the 72 hours of shooting time that law enforcement trainees had in comparison to the 40 hours of proposed training time the teachers would receive. He said that in the district’s plan it was incorrectly stated that ILEA trainees only receive 40 hours when the correct number is nearly twice that amount.
Brevik added these training periods are not comparable even if they were to last the same period of time. The ILEA Trainees receive intense and hands-on training. Meanwhile, the armed staff members have only received only five hours of training to date. Bevik said that this isn’t even an accurate count of shooting time as this period of time includes time waiting to shoot and not just shooting time.
“So if those two days are suggested to be the same as 16 hours of ILEA range training, they aren’t the same,” Bevik said.
Bevik said that one cannot use a measure as simple as the number of bullets fired to compare the ILEA range training program to what the staff members receive.
The plans call for teachers to be part of something similar to a tactical squad and in the event of an emergency would search the school for a shooter. But Brevik pointed out that members of law enforcement tactical units are given training in addition to the standard Law Enforcement training. In some cases this extra training can encompass years of experience.
“It is not realistic to expect that individually trained educational or other staff can learn all that would be required to identify, seek out and eliminate the threat of an active shooter,” Brevik wrote.
Brevik went further into criticisms of the proposed program. One criticism was that armed staffers would not be issued body armor. According to Brevik, this was to be done so teachers would not be identified as being armed however, he pointed out that armed professionals would need body armor.
He also said that the training seems to have an impact on other staffers, particularly in regard to the district’s active shooter training. In an ALICE active shooter training teachers seemed to believe they would only need to hold out for 30 seconds when in reality ALICE and similar training are not about holding out for an arbitrary period of time as active shooting situations are fluid and that there can be no guarantee of how long it may take to be able to deal with a serious threat.
The letter ends with Brevik giving two suggestions to the district, the first being that the district spends time making sure the buildings are so secure that it is impossible for weapons to get into the building. The second solution was that if the district insisted on having armed personnel in school buildings those personnel are trained professionals, not just staff members that have received some training.
Read Brevik’s full letter below: