Will County officials to discuss school safety solutions

Brock A. Stein | 3/15/2018, 2:56 p.m.
Will County will host a joint meeting between its public safety and judicial committees on April 3 where officials will ...
A sign designates Charles Reed Elementary School as a gun free zone where conceal carry permit holders will not be allowed to carry their side arms. Photo by Brock A. Stein

Will County will host a joint meeting between its public safety and judicial committees on April 3 where officials will discuss possible school safety improvements in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shootings last month. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. at the Will County Government Building, 302 N. Chicago St. in Joliet.

County Board member Ray Tuminello said at the board’s March meeting that schools should have just as much protection as places like courthouses, airports and concert venues. He said the issue can’t wait for officials in Washington or Springfield to act.

“We should be doing our part to protect every child when they’re at school,” said Tuminello, “If we don’t have a safe county I don’t know what our job and role really is here.”

Tuminello said he was open any viable ideas including deploying more metal detectors, or lockable doors.

“I can’t go to an IHSA competition without going through a metal detector and having an armed guard there. I can’t go to a sporting event, I can’t go to a concert, I can’t go to an airport, I can’t get on a cruise ship, I can’t go to a courthouse, amusement park,” he said, “But yet our children are open targets. It needs to stop.”

Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow said that his office would be part of the discussion saying that “we all need to work together on this.”

Glasgow said that his office was looking at ways of helping overtasked agencies like the FBI follow up when someone reports a person or a red flag. He also said he hoped to be able to plug in to grassroots organizations like neighborhood watch programs to create an early warning system in Will County.

“If you see something tell somebody and we can avoid these tragedies,” he said.

County Board Member Steve Balich elicited audible jeers from the public gallery when he suggested that the best way to protect schools would be to arm teaching staff. He also suggested that the reason schools continue to be targets for mass shootings is because they are gun-free zones.

“It’s like an invitation to these people,” said Balich who also supports more metal detectors, fortifying buildings and also teaching morality to kids.

“Start getting our kids educated on respect and the value of life,” said Balich, “Because it’s no longer taught in the schools.”

County Board Speaker Jim Moustis said that whatever solutions come will have to be local.

“I know this: the answer won’t come out of Washington D.C. It’s is not going come out of the state of Illinois,” said Moustis who said he was not in favor of arming teachers.

“Quite frankly, I don’t want to put the burden on our teachers to be the security people in our schools,” he said.

“They’re there to teach.”