A school superintendent in Illinois decided that she was ready to everyday carry at her schools in Hutsonville. Of course, it’s not that easy. To carry in class she had to become a cop.
Hutsonville is fairly rural and if needed, first responders can be a long way away. That’s why superintendent Julie Kraemer decided to seek out law enforcement training to allow her to carry in schools. This way she knows the students and staff will have someone close by should she ever be needed.
“If somebody comes in to try to hurt my kids, we have something other than a stapler to throw at them. We’re no longer a soft target. We have some options,” Kraemer told Time. “I’m just going to be a superintendent that happens to also be a police officer.”
Kraemer, who already had a permit for concealed-carry, started training in January of this year, finishing in September. Her district has around 320 students and doesn’t have the budget to hire any school resource officers. Becoming a sworn law enforcement officer herself was the next best option.
She said she made the decision shortly after a nearby school had a gun scare. In late 2017 a student at Mattoon High School in Illinois produced a handgun and raised it to shoot another student. As he was aiming a math and physical education teacher, Angela McQueen, tackled him and wrestled his gun away.
“I think sometimes we sit back and think it’ll never happen here, it’ll never happen to us, it’s states away,” says Kraemer. “But that was really close to home.”
“I love all my kids, but if it comes to a situation where I’m walking down the hall and one of them is taking the lives of some of my other kids, then no, I won’t hesitate because of that,” she stated.
“I have to be able to protect my kids. If you work in education — I don’t care whether you’re a secretary, a bus driver, a superintendent, a teacher, or a principal — they’re your kids. I have 324 kids that come in every day that are my kids, and it matters what happens,” said Kraemer. “I hope this place goes another 20, 40, 60 years without it ever happening, but it pays to be prepared.”
Director of the Southern Illinois Criminal Justice Training Program Chuck Doan said that Kraemer was the first educator to get police training for school safety in at least 20 years.
“It is definitely not that common,” said Doan. “It’s important that we have people in our schools who can make a police response when necessary, whether that’s in the form of a police officer assigned by the department or someone like Julie.”
Maybe this will lead to an uptick in school staff seeking out similar training and similar qualifications. Time will tell if Kraemer is an anomaly or a pioneer.