Kan. School District Gets 8 Semi-Automatic Rifles for Officers

The discovery that Shawnee Mission School District police have eight semi-automatic rifles has sparked a debate in the northeast Kansas community.

Although the district police department has had the weapons since 2015, many community members learned about the weapons in a report published earlier this month.

John Douglass, Shawnee’s director of safety and security, says the district’s police department needs the rifles to protect campuses from active shooters.

“You are never going to see [the rifles] unless something really, really bad is happening,” Douglass told The Kansas City Star. “Police have long determined that we have to be equally matched when it comes to protecting from active shooters.”

Still, many parents have questioned the necessity of the weapons, citing safety concerns and a tight budget for academic supplies in the district. Others say they’re upset they weren’t involved in the decision making process.

“It’s pretty offensive to me as a taxpayer to feel like you don’t have any voice and you are being excluded from decisions that could harm your children or kill them,” Melissa Patt, who has three children enrolled in the district, said.

Douglass says his officers go through the same training as other police officers in the state and that the weapons are stored securely in patrol cars.

In 2015, the district spent $5,671 on eight Smith & Wesson rifles for a supervisor and seven district police officers (who are separate from school resource officers).

The Shawnee Mission School District police force operates separately from local police and helps school resource officers.

Although Shawnee appears to be the only district in the area with the weapons, other district’s school resource officers have access to semi-automatic weapons because they also work as local police officers or have partnerships with local agencies.

Campus Safety has previously reported on school districts, especially those in rural areas, deciding to arm officers or staff members.

The Shawnee Mission School District serves more than 27,000 students across more than 40 buildings.


If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

About the Author


Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo