Appleton Police Chief: School safety plan should include gun control

APPLETON, Wis. -

Appleton Police Chief Todd Thomas wants to see gun control measures included in Wisconsin’s response to school safety concerns.

Governor Scott Walker’s proposal does not include gun control changes.

“[I’m] kind of blessed as a police chief, because I'm not a Republican or a Democrat,” Thomas said.

“I'm proud to say my political affiliation, my party, is public safety."

Thomas’ proposal includes a so-called gun restraining law, under which a court order could trigger the removal of someone’s weapons for 180 days if the person poses a “lethal threat to themselves or others,” according to Thomas' written plan.

“I think it would be helpful if [the bar were] lowered a little bit… where we get repeated calls and we have a concern for public safety and there's a lethality threat, we can at least take the firearms for a period of time,” Thomas said.

Another suggestion from Thomas is the reinstatement of Wisconsin’s gun-buyer waiting period, and an extension of the waiting time to 72 hours.  Walker in 2015 signed a measure that repealed Wisconsin’s 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases.

Walker, after the February school shooting in Florida that killed 17 people, didn't propose arming teachers, a move some conservative lawmakers have proposed.

Instead, Walker is calling for creating a new office of school safety -- under control of the attorney general -- that would be in control of a $100 million grant fund. That money could go to pay for armed security guards at schools, but the amount of the three-year grants would go down from covering 75 percent of the costs in the first year to just 25 percent in the third.

Other proposals would require mandatory reporting for threats of school violence, mandate that parents be told of a school bullying incident within 48 hours and require all schools to have a safety plan. Another bill would create an exemption in student privacy laws to provide law enforcement agencies with surveillance video if it "serves a legitimate safety interest."

Sgt. Adam Nagel, a school resource officer at Appleton West High School, said authorities building trust with students is a key to school safety.

"If we don't have those relationships, we're not going to have a safe school," Nagel said.

 

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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