TRAVERSE CITY — A plan to lockdown Traverse City Area Public Schools buildings if someone legally carries a firearm onto school grounds remains in place.
TCAPS interim Superintendent Paul Soma clarified Monday that the district's response to a concealed pistol license holder openly carrying a firearm on school grounds-- as allowed by state law -- is "evolving." But TCAPS officials will enter lockdown if they see an individual with a gun in a school.
“Right now, we’re not comfortable with people carrying guns in our schools, and I don’t think we’ll ever be comfortable with people carrying guns in our schools," Soma said.
Traverse City Police will send an officer to any TCAPS schools within city limits where an armed individual is present, Capt. Mike Ayling said. The officer will remain with the armed individual until he or she leaves the school.
TCAPS officials reached that decision after a recent meeting with local law enforcement officials.
"The decision was if somebody comes into our school with a gun, we’re going to go in to lockdown, and we’ll sort it out from there," Ayling said.
Ayling added police originally considered telling any armed individuals who prompted a lockdown that they needed to leave school grounds, or risk being arrested for disturbing the peace.
Ayling discussed that proposed measure with Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney, who did not support the plan to arrest those who legally carry firearms in schools, even if they caused a lockdown.
Ayling said city police will still send an officer to any school where someone is legally carrying a firearm. They will not arrest an armed individual, but they will remain with that person until he or she leaves.
District officials plan to meet again with law enforcement over the summer to further discuss how they should react when someone legally carries a firearm on school grounds.
"There is a desire by all parties to be on the same page about how we’re handling this," Soma said.
Ayling said he has a meeting scheduled with TCAPS officials next week to discuss how best to react to situations like legally armed individuals attending school sporting events or district board meetings.