Special deputies armed to protect students at area school

School arms staff for safety

BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - Guns in schools is something no parent wants to hear.

But, when it comes to protecting students, the Batesville School District doesn’t take any chances.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Hester is a firm believer in keeping his students and faculty safe.

“Our people are dedicated to putting their lives on the line to save our kids,” Hester said.

Back in 2018, a bill was amended over the campus carry law.

Once that was in place, the Batesville School District formed a team of special deputies.

“We are a no-gun zone, but our policy says that if you’re a trained law enforcement officer, such as our special deputies on our active shooter response team, you can carry,” Hester said.

So what is a special deputy?

First, you have to go through the Independence County Sheriff’s Department and be trained by them.

“They come and train with our guys. That way everybody knows who everybody is,” said Hester.

The training is 110 hours long and can take several months to complete.

The training includes education inside and outside of the classroom and every deputy must meet a high standard before being sworn in.

Not only are their weapons concealed, but their identities are too. No one on school grounds knows who these special deputies are.

For safety reasons, Dr. Hester wouldn’t say how many special deputies are stationed across the district.

But, they play a vital role in a part of the state that needs extra protection for their students.

“We are a rural community, it takes a long time sometimes to get a response from the sheriff or the police because of the distance. We have wooded areas right up to our school as you know from the Westside deals,” said Hester.

Their gun policy follows the guidelines of the Governor’s Safety Commission.

Dr. Hester said he wants every parent to know that he is committed to keeping all of his faculty and students safety.

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