School police officers sworn into the Gateway School District were equipped with firearms for the first time after the district’s petition for an armed force was approved Tuesday. The district plans to have an armed officer at each of the district’s seven schools.
A similar petition was denied in September by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Timothy O’Reilly who said the school board did not think the decision through and officers did not have enough training. The school board is still appealing that verdict.
In the meantime, the board filed an amended petition in criminal court removing language that said the officers would have the authority to perform arrests.
Judge Jeffrey Manning said after the hearing that having protection for children in schools is vital.
Legally, under state public school code, the district is allowed to support its own police force equipped with firearms, pending court approval. Eight of Allegheny County’s districts have private police forces. Six of those are able to carry firearms.