Pittsburgh Public Schools votes to not arm police

Pittsburgh Public Schools votes to not arm police

PITTSBURGH — The school board voted 8-1 Wednesday night against arming the Pittsburgh Public Schools police force.

While the school board has affirmed its stance to not arm school police, the police chief has argued his officers need guns to do their jobs.

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If the board voted in favor of arming the district’s police, it would have been at least a month before the weapons were in schools. The time would be needed to adopt a written use-of-force policy, according to the school board.

“The belief for many of us is that it's just not needed. So we'll vote accordingly tonight,” said Dr. Regina Holley, president of the Pittsburgh Public School Board. “The proximity to city police, in the city, is much different than it is in the suburban areas.”

Users of the WPXI News App were the first to know about the school board's decision. To great breaking alerts about your district, visit wpxinewsapp.com.

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During a public hearing Monday night, 75 people were slated to speak. Parents and students voiced concern that allowing police to carry guns would change the school environment.
Holley told Channel 11 she expected the board would reject the plan and was against putting guns in the hands of the district's officers.
Over the last several months, 11 Investigates has been tracking the growing trend of school districts creating or growing their own police departments. More than a half dozen districts in Allegheny County arm their school officers.

The police chief said arming his officers would better protect students from outside threats. Holley said she supported him, but wanted to find other ways to keep students safe.

“The suburban schools have it, but that doesn't mean we have to have it as well," Holley said. “He cares about the children, he cares about the staff, he wants everyone to be safe. However, we have a different view on how that should actually be done.”

"This never was about elementary schools. It was about events, it's about the mobile units, it's about Cupples Stadium, it's about the safety of our children," said Bill Hileman, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.