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OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa superintendent says he’s worried about how long it would take law enforcement to respond to a shooter at his rural district’s schools.

Joel Pedersen is superintendent of the Cardinal Community School District in Eldon. Pedersen spoke to the Wapello County Board of Supervisors this week about his district’s vulnerability in responding to a shooting threat. He said it’s a concern following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month that killed 17 people.

Eldon doesn’t have a police force and the nearest law enforcement is in Ottumwa, about 15 miles from the school, the Ottumwa Courier reported .

Pedersen worries that in the time it takes for an armed officer to arrive, the worst of a shooting could’ve already happened.

“Every rural school is facing the same issues,” Wapello County Sheriff Mark Miller said. “Rural law enforcement has always had its own unique challenges.”

Pedersen said he’s communicating with Miller to identify safety options and better techniques to mitigate active shooter situations while they wait for law enforcement to arrive.

“We’re talking about having an officer on (the campus) as a possibility,” said Pedersen. “We’d talked about it in the past, but the board didn’t know that it was right for us. Florida changed everything.”

Miller’s department is the primary law enforcement entity for Eldon and other towns outside Ottumwa. But Miller said he wouldn’t limit potential responses only to his department, where response time to Cardinal schools could range from five minutes to half an hour.

“Instead, we would call in any possible resource in a situation like that,” Miller said of dispatching other law enforcement.

Pedersen said they’re looking into grants to hire a full-time law enforcement officer on school grounds. He said he hopes the county might be willing to offer matching funds.


Information from: The Ottumwa Courier,