New Va. bill to allow school security officers to carry nonlethal weapons

Civilian security personnel at public schools in the Fredericksburg area and statewide could carry stun guns and other nonlethal weapons if Del. Mark Cole gets his way.

Cole, R–Spotsylvania County, has introduced a bill for the upcoming General Assembly session that would allow school boards to equip security officers with stun guns, batons and spray devices such as Mace.

The bill would not let those officers—who are employed by school systems, not sheriff’s offices—have actual guns.

“I’m not concerned about them having to Taser a student or something like that,” Cole said. “I’m concerned about an armed intruder.” He added that he thought a bill allowing nonlethal weapons rather than guns had the best chance of passing.

School systems in Spotsylvania and Stafford counties have security officers at every high school.

They also have armed school resource officers. or SROs, at all middle and high schools. SROs are sworn deputies who report to sheriff’s offices.

Some Spotsylvania officials have questioned the effectiveness of the unarmed security personnel, with Supervisor Greg Cebula calling them “glorified hall monitors.”

Last year, the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors voted to reject state grants that would have partially covered the cost of hiring security personnel at Lee Hill and Spotswood elementary schools.

Cole, who is also Spotsylvania’s deputy county administrator, said his bill is unrelated to that discussion, which he said “highlights the plight” of the security officers. Spotsylvania’s security personnel carry radios but don’t have any weapons, schools spokeswoman Rene Daniels said.

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