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Dallas Laird

Casper City Councilman Dallas Laird speaks in May during a budget meeting at Casper City Hall.

A Casper city councilman who has been outspoken about school safety issues proposed a resolution Thursday that states the city needs to do its part to make schools safe for all students and adults.

The resolution, which was drafted by Councilman Dallas Laird, states the Casper City Council should be a national leader in crafting “innovative and meaningful policy to confront gun violence.”

“Gun violence presents a clear and present danger to the students, parents, educators, para-educators, administrators and support staff of Casper, Wyoming, schools...” it states. “The City of Casper will continue to work with a broad spectrum of local community stakeholders, local law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents, students, teachers and staff to develop, implement and monitor policies and programs that foster and support a positive school climate, free from harassment and violence.”

Laird sent the proposed resolution to the City Council and City Manager Carter Napier on Thursday and requested it be passed “as soon as humanly possible.”

He hopes a resolution will raise awareness about school shootings and encourage all community members to focus on securing educational facilities.

“I think that’s the only thing that we can start doing immediately — the gun control debate is going to go on for years,” he said.

The councilman added that he supports the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms but wants to work to keep these weapons out of schools.

Metal detectors and an increased police presence might help, said Laird, adding that he would vote to authorize funding to the police department to pay for the changes.

Vice Mayor Charlie Powell said before the Council approves a resolution he wants the city to look into what is already being done.

Student safety and gun control have been widely discussed throughout the country since a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, left 17 students and staff members dead on Feb. 14.

Laird also brought up school shootings during the City Council’s Tuesday meeting.

“I think that our children, who are basically defenseless, think that we’re doing something [to prevent school shootings] and I don’t know what we’re doing,” he said.

Powell said at the meeting that community leaders are already working to address this problem.

“I think I can say with a fair amount of certainty ...That our police department has in fact been preparing for mass shootings for many, many years and working to increase our capabilities and ensure that our kids are safe,” he remarked.

The massacre in Florida has sparked discussion and action among others in the community.

About 100 students at Natrona County High School walked out Wednesday to show solidarity with victims of school shootings. The group’s leaders said the walkout lasted for 1,606 seconds to symbolize the 1,606 mass shootings that have taken place since a 2012 massacre in Newton, Connecticut.

Natrona County School District officials are currently considering a broad range of changes to better protect students and staff, including arming teachers, installing metal detectors and increasing training for school resource officers.

“You never think it’s going to happen to your school, but you have to be ready,” school board member Dave Applegate said at a meeting last month.

Whether teachers should be armed is a controversial debate that is currently being weighed by many leaders throughout the nation.

After the meeting, Superintendent Steve Hopkins told the Star-Tribune and his staff was already working to better understand school safety. Each of the school board’s subcommittees — policy, academic steering and construction — will all have oversight of different staff work. For instance, the policy committee will oversee a review of “federal and state law, policies, regulations, standard operating procedures” and more.

“Are we going to choose to be immobilized by (school safety) or are we going to choose to go proactive about it?” Hopkins asked. “You can obviously tell which direction I want to go.”

School district spokeswoman Tanya Southerland said Thursday that the school district plans to continue working with local law enforcement and city officials to address student and staff safety.

Katie King covers the city of Casper.

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Local Government Reporter

Katie King joined the Star-Tribune in 2017 and primarily covers issues related to local government. She previously worked as a crime reporter in the British Virgin Islands. Originally from Virginia, Katie is a graduate of James Madison University.

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