Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 22, 2014

TCAPS lockdown plan ends

TRAVERSE CITY — A plan to lockdown Traverse City Area Public Schools buildings if someone legally carries a firearm onto school grounds lasted only six days before district officials backed away from the measure.

TCAPS officials continue to wrestle with how to ensure safety and limit disturbances at schools while still adhering to state law that allows concealed carry permit holders to openly carry firearms in schools.

Several officials said openly armed individuals in schools scare many parents, students and staff, and disturb the education process.

“We’ve had elementary track meets that had to get paused because kids and parents were afraid and worried,” TCAPS board President Kelly Hall said, referring to a recent example at Long Lake Elementary

Schools, when someone legally carried a firearm onto school grounds.

District officials in early June met with local law enforcement representatives and reached a decision to start a lockdown at any school where an individual is seen carrying a firearm, according an email sent to district principals.

Traverse City Police Capt. Mike Ayling and Grand Traverse Sheriff Tom Bensley said their departments did not recommend that idea, but Ayling added that, as a parent, he knows how he wants school principals to act if someone brings a gun to a school.

”If I was a parent of a student and I found out there was a person on campus walking around with a loaded gun and the school did not go into lockdown, I would be disappointed,” Ayling said.

The automatic lockdown plan remained in place until the last day of school, six days after principals received the lockdown instruction email from school administrators.

Ayling consulted with Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney during that time and asked him if an individual could be arrested for disturbing the peace after he or she legally carried a firearm in to a school.

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