State Auditor Nicole Galloway formally requested Gov. Mike Parson call a special session to implement recommendations made by a school safety task force — including placing trained armed officers in schools.
The Missouri School Safety Task Force, led by Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, released a report in July with a bevy of recommendations for how Missouri schools can ensure protections for students, including better training for staff in youth mental health issues and employing armed officers.
Overall, the task force concluded Missouri schools are “overwhelmingly very safe places for children to learn and grow.” But still, it identified more than a dozen areas where improvements could be made.
In a letter to Parson Tuesday, Galloway specifically said she agreed with the report’s recommendation of employing armed and trained resource officers in all Missouri schools.
“School resource officers are sworn career law enforcement who already receive specialized training and certification under Missouri law,” Galloway, a Democrat, said. “It should be a top priority for state government to ensure every school has an experienced, properly trained school resource officer who is prepared to neutralize a threat and respond to emergency situations.”
Galloway, who drew upon both her and Parson’s experience as parents, also urged the state to fund the officers — instead of placing the fiscal burden on local schools and law enforcement agencies.
“We are forced to take such action now because for too long state and federal officials have failed to adopt common sense gun safety measures, including universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, preventing suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms, and implementing red flag laws,” she said.
Galloway, who is running for governor in 2020 and expected to challenge Parson for the seat, said she would work with him to come up with ways to fund these officers without raising taxes.
“In recent days, Missouri students have gone back to school, and the issue of school safety is at the top of mind for parents and educators,” Galloway said in a statement about the request. “This task force studied our schools’ current safety measures; received public input from parents, educators, and law enforcement; and then arrived at concrete recommendations. Now it’s time to act and ensure their work is not collecting dust on a shelf.”
Kelli Jones, Parson’s communications director, said the Governor’s Office hasn’t received anything from Galloway on the topic.
Parson has suggested he might call a special session to tackle “a couple of issues,” namely one regarding vehicle sales and taxes. He created the Missouri School Safety Task Force by executive order in March.
The Republican governor hasn’t officially announced he’s running in 2020 — he took over the seat in June 2018 after the previous governor resigned — but he has teased Sept. 8 as a campaign launch date.
In addition to armed officers, the task force’s report also focused on mental and behavioral health.
This story has been updated.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the newspaper in 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.