School shootings remain a primary concern across the nation.
This concern exists in the Junction City/ Geary County, especially after a number of students within Unified School District 475 were arrested in the last few months following the Florida high school shooting that killed 17, for aggravated criminal threats. A few students had also been arrested for bringing air-soft pistols to school.
Geary County Sheriff Tony Wolf said he has a theory.
“My theory is, it’s not a matter of if, but when,” he said
Wolf has plans to place an armed security officer or deputy in every USD 475 school within the county.
“One, maybe two. Maybe more depending on the size of the school,” he said.
His plans are currently in an early stage of development. Wolf said questions still remain which he currently doesn’t have answers to for implementing this safety plan.
“How are we going to afford this? How am I going to be able to this,” he said.
Wolf wants to meet with USD 475 officials to find out if some of their Heavy Impact Aid (a supplement to the Department of Defense’s Impact Aid Program that only certain military-impacted districts qualify for) could be used to finance armed security in the schools.
USD 475 qualifies for impact aid because at least 20 percent of its average daily attendance consists in military-dependent students. As of last year, the school district had more than $27 million in their possession with nearly $40 million more guaranteed to come over the next four years.
It will take a significant amount of people to cover each school.
The Sheriff’s Department secures a number of venues for a variety of things.
“Why can’t we offer that same respect to our kids,” Wolf said.
The Junction City Police Department currently has school resource officers which go from school to school. They also have DARE officers as well for schools within the district.
Wolf said the goal of his officers would be security.
“They walk the halls. They walk the perimeter of the school. They check doors. They’re there in the hallways with the kids when they get out of classes,” Wolf said. “They are there to be a deterrent for anybody to come in and try something.”
Wolf has reached out Rep. Roger Marshall’s office as well as Sen. Jerry Moran’s office to discuss potential funding.
Moran’s office said they would be happy to assist in whatever way they can. Wolf has yet to hear back from Marshall’s office.
“There are Department of Justice grants that have come out for just this type of thing,” Wolf said.
But he believes the problem with grants is that, though they pay for necessities for over a few years, the money provided will slowly dwindle each year.
A steady source of funds would be better. Therefore, Wolf believes funds from the Heavy Impact Aid would be best.
This plan has been on Wolf’s mind for a long time.
“The biggest stumbling block was funding,” he said.
A school shooting once occurred in Junction City in September, 1993 when an argument broke out between two boys in the cafeteria of Junction City High School. Shots were fired, and bystander, Shannon Ingle, then 14, was struck in the head. Fortunately, it was a non-fatal impact.
Though it has been nearly 25 years since that event, it’s a situation that cannot be repeated.
With recent events involving shootings on school campuses, he said the idea has come up in his mind much more frequently.
“I think it’s time to really get serious about it,” he said.