Public and community colleges have always had their own police departments, but private colleges typically don’t.

However, one state lawmaker has teamed up with a security leader at College of the Ozarks to try and change that.

“Last year in 2018, it was like we had one per month — an active shooter in a school situation,” said Kurt McDonald, the operation head for crisis management at College of the Ozarks.

McDonald has teamed up with State Representative Jeff Justus to put officers with FBI level training and full arrest power on private college campuses in Missouri.

“Currently, Taney County Sheriff’s Department are our first responders,” McDonald said. “But, usually in these events of which the most serious, the active shooter situation they start and finish in about 8 to 15 minutes.”

In an active shooter situation, response time is crucial.

“We want to have our officers well trained, which they currently are, but even more well trained,” McDonald said. “So that they go on the offense right away.”

It’s pretty much common for a public college or university to have their own police department, but not a private one. So why now?

“More active shooters,” McDonald said. “When is it not a good time to make campuses safer?”

Justus said so far, the bill has been well received..

“One of the things Mr. McDonald and I are doing now is going to the representatives talking to them because there’s several of the representatives have colleges that might if it passes, have the ability to do this,” Justus said.

Will taxpayers have to foot the bill?

“It will not cost the taxpayers anything,” Justus said. “Schools will have to fund it themselves.”

“I’ve put three kids through college — and it means a lot to me to know that when my children are in college, I can rest at night to know that that’s the safest place that they could possibly be,” McDonald said.

By Chrystal Blair | Ozarks First