When the York City school board denied its security director's 2009 request to arm his team with pepper spray, one board member reminded him, "You're not police officers."

That's still the case, despite a dramatic shift in the district over the past four years.

Maybe not for long, though.

The current head of security, Michael Muldrow, last week asked the board to sign off on a proposal to make his five security officers full-fledged law-enforcement officers, complete with arrest powers and weapons.

Superintendent Eric Holmes stressed the district doesn't want the officers to carry guns.

No, Muldrow suggested Tasers would be "a more practical option."

The board would have to work out details like that in a later conversation, the superintendent said.

Actually, that's probably a discussion that should happen before the board authorizes Muldrow to seek approval from the York County Court of Common Pleas to create such a police department.

Even better, the board should seriously consider whether this move is even necessary.

Aside from carrying weapons and issuing summary citations -- for what, expired tags in the student parking lot? -- it seems a district police department would operate much like its current security team.

According to a proposal submitted to the board, district police officers would have the ability to detain people accused of misdemeanors or felonies until the arrival of "local law enforcement," which is something we presumed was happening now.


Advertisement

In fact, two York City Police officers would continue to patrol school grounds during the school year, as they do now.

Why, then, the push for a district force?

Holmes said the proposal is tied to the district's state-mandated recovery plan, which identifies the district's safety and security as an area in need of improvement.

Yet the superintendent also seemed to downplay those safety concerns, calling them merely a perception. A district police department is one way to combat that attitude, he said.

Or confirm it.

Why else would a school district put armed officers in its schools?

If, after careful consideration, the board decides such measures are needed, it might be better off pursuing the Juvenile Aid Bureau that was suggested in 2009.

That plan called for the York City Police Department assigning six police officers to augment the two already working in city schools.

It almost certainly wouldn't be revenue neutral, but at least students, teachers and administrators would know their safety was in the capable hands of trained and tested professionals.