A parent of a school located in Papillion-La Vista has proposed a question to the local school board that may have state-wide implications. At a recent school board meeting, the parent brought forth the issue of off-duty police officers and law enforcement agents carrying weapons in state schools after noticing an off-duty FBI agent carrying a firearm in a Papillion-La Vista school.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, the actions of the off-duty FBI agent exist in a legal-gray area within the state of Nebraska. Weapons are technically banned on school grounds, but may be brought to campuses by on-duty police officers. Whether or not off-duty law enforcement officials are able to bring weapons to the schools remains up for debate, as no judicial branch has made a ruling on the issue.
Many view the line between “off-duty” and “on-duty” as a thin one for law enforcement officials. La Vista Police Sgt. and Papillion-La Vista school board member Jeremy Kinsey told the Omaha World-Herald that he would expect any weapon-carrying officer, on or off-duty, to respond to a child-threatening situation were one to arise in a school.
“Personally I’m in support of any police officers, whether in uniform or plainclothes, being at the schools and being able to react to a situation if a situation came up. That’s what police officers are sword to do: protect,” Kinsey said.
However, concerns about off-duty officers bringing weapons into schools are also grounded in reality. If a parent sees a person in street clothes carrying a weapon into a school, his or her first reaction might be that the off-duty officer could have intentions to harm the children. Of course, it’s the opposite that parents, children, officers and school administrators would like to be true.
Although legislation regarding the issue does not yet exist in Nebraska, similar provisions have been proposed in other states. Republican Representative Joel Kleefisch sponsored a bill that would allow out-of-state, off-duty and retired police officers to carry concealed weapons in schools in his home state of Wisconsin. That bill, however, was struck down, and was not voted on by the state Assembly, WISN 12 reports.
Whether or not the issue of off-duty officers carrying guns in Nebraska schools will be brought before that state’s legislation remains to be seen, although discussion of the issue certainly appears to be heating up.