Libby teachers could have non-lethals in 2020

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Libby Public Schools is looking into equipping teachers with non-lethal spray canisters next year, and the school board went over their first reading of non-lethal policies, Monday at their regular board meeting.

Craig Barringer, Libby Public School superintendent, said the board will have two more readings to go over the policy and to allow for public comment. The first will be at the board meeting on Monday, May 13, with another reading to possibly approve the policies in June.

Reflex Protect, the self defense spray bottle, reacts like a targeted bear spray, he said. The bottle, which has a five-year life span, has enough gel inside it to be sprayed more than once.

The spray is foamy and shoots in a line, he said. The goal is for teachers to have them in all classrooms.

If someone came into a school building trying to be violent, staffers could spray them down, he said. “They’re really easy to use.”

The initial cost is fairly pricey, he said. In order to do something like this, the school board has to create a policy to allow the non-lethals into the school.

The school has not budgeted yet for the non-lethals. It would be something that is done next year, he said.

If there is a policy put in place, it does not mean the school is going to go out and order them, he said. But, it gives the school the ability to do the training and get them in the classrooms.

Teachers also have to go through a training before the non-lethals can be sold to the school, he said. Staffers would not be forced to keep a spray bottle in their classroom if it made them uncomfortable.

Ruth VanWorth-Rogers, Libby Middle-High School principal, said Reflex Protect has a great training program.

VanWorth-Rogers learned about the non-lethals from a presentation by Reflex Protect several months ago at the Cabinet Peaks Medical Center.

“I think it’s a nice option to have in the event that it’s necessary,” she said.

Supplying the non-lethals would be a large cost outlay for the school, she said.

The spray bottles would probably be located in central areas such as building wings, cafeterias, the office and the gyms. Essentially, places where there are going to be large groups of people, she said.

The school has not made a lot of plans yet because adding non-lethals is still in its beginning stages, she said. The board has to support it before the possibility of having non-lethals is even looked at.

In addition to support from the board, the school’s safety committee would need to look at it and ask themselves if they feel comfortable having the non-lethals in school, she said.

Non-lethals would not be implemented this year, it would happen next year, she said. In addition to needing board approval, the school also needs to find funding to train its teachers.

The funding situation depends on if the school wants to write a grant, she said. If policies for the non-lethals are approved, the school might write a grant proposal to the Community Oriented Policing Services with the U.S. Department of Justice.

It is the school’s best option for stopping something threatening before the police can arrive, she said.

“Hopefully they would never be used,” she said.

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