In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings, a group of Johnson County law enforcement leaders have started discussions about ensuring school security measures in the area are adequate — discussions that Prairie Village Police Chief Wes Jordan said are likely to continue in the coming weeks.
Jordan and the heads of other Johnson County municipalities’ law enforcement agencies convened earlier this week for a standing meeting, during which school safety at the county’s seven districts was a prime topic.
“I was working the day we had a pipe bomb go off at Shawnee Mission East in 1992,” Jordan told the Prairie Village City Council Monday. “I saw what school violence and chaos is. Ever since, I’ve had a new appreciation for how important it is to prevent it.”
After the Newtown shooting, Prairie Village police conducted additional drive bys at schools in the city limits. Jordan said that the law enforcement officials had agreed that safety efforts at county schools should be coordinated, so schools have similar efforts in place regardless of their district.
Jordan’s update also elicited questions about mental health services available to area residents. Jordan said state funding cuts have limited the amount of access to such services, but that the police department works to address issues with individuals on a case-by-case basis.
For example, he said, the department recently dealt with a situation in which a person recently released from psychiatric care was demanding to have weapons that the police had confiscated from him returned. Jordan said in such instances he generally defers to having the department sell the guns or get rid of them in another way, and compensate the individual for them instead.
“The case law around situations like these isn’t very clear,” he said. “I’d rather be sued for not giving guns back than give the guns back and have a problem.”