Veterans offer volunteer security for Washington County schools
May 17, 2018, 10:22 PM
SAINT GEORGE, Utah – Bruce Raferty served the country as a Marine in Vietnam, but like many others he says simply standing by and enjoying his retirement isn’t enough, especially when he sees school shootings happening across the country.
“One resource officer at a school is not enough if this is going to happen,” Raferty said. “It’s happening everywhere. That’s what scares me, is there’s no predictability.”
Raferty, who serves as the information officer for the Southern Utah chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, says roughly 30 members who have concealed weapons permits are willing and ready to serve as volunteer security for schools across Washington County.
“It needs to be done,” Raferty said. “Because it’s not if something’s going to happen, it’s going to be when.”
Accepting that help however is not so simple for the Washington County School District, according to Director of Communications, Steven Dunham. He says the volunteers would likely have to complete some sort of training in coordination with law enforcement. He says the idea also needs to be reviewed by the state office of risk management for liability issues.
“We’re open to seeing if we can make something work,” Dunham said. “When you have volunteers that want to come in and help, and make sure that the schools are safe, you don’t want to just discredit that.”
Like many school districts, Washington County has school resource officers posted at all of their secondary schools. The officers make stops at elementary schools as needed.
Some parents, like Kyle Johnston, who has younger children welcome the idea of taking on volunteers.
“If someone’s willing to donate their time to protect my children here while they’re at school, that would be a great thing,” Johnston said. “I’m all for it.”
Raferty says the veterans and school district are expected to set up a meeting sometime next week. He feels their offer is too important to pass up, considering what’s at stake.
“These guys will not run away from the fire,” Raferty said. “Some of them have been wounded. They’ll run to the fire, because that’s what they’ve done, and they will continue to do that.”