ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – St. Charles County has armed officers in every school to protect kids from situations like an active shooter.

The decision came in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting. The St. Charles County Council voted in June to use ARPA funds to put armed officers in all elementary, middle, and high schools where they were stationed.

Angie Scheffler watched a news report in horror about Monday’s deadly shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in south St. Louis. Although her daughter is an elementary school student in St. Charles County, Scheffler is a CVPA graduate.

“I was like, ‘Oh my god, I would never imagine…this is for real, for real,’” she said.

“(Monday) was the best case scenario for a law enforcement response,” said Chief Kurt Frisz for the St. Charles County Police Department.

He praised the rapid response of the St. Louis police. A 19-year-old gunman broke into the school and shot nine people, killing a student and a teacher. Police said the responding officers quickly located and killed the shooter in an exchange of gunfire, preventing a massacre. The gunman, a former student at CVPA, reportedly had more than 600 rounds of ammunition with him at a school with about 700 teachers and staff.

The police response in St. Louis is a stark contrast to the Uvalde shootings in May. A gunman killed two teachers and 19 students as police delayed entering the building.

“(Uvalde) was a gut punch to all of us in law enforcement,” Frisz said. “No one wants to see that happen. It shouldn’t have happened. What should happen is what happened in St. Louis City. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department did a fantastic job. But (now) it’s how do we get better from that, the best response possible, but let’s get better, so we don’t have any loss of life.”

Frisz said having armed officers in all the schools could be the first step.

“Maybe (an armed officer) could have taken action quicker at the door,” he said.

The St. Charles County Police Department has added an officer at all 14 elementary across five school districts in unincorporated areas after the county council approved spending $2.2 million for the officer and equipment.

The armed school resource officers (SROs) also provide a trained set of eyes and ears to look for things school staff might miss.

“Check doors throughout the day, make sure the doors aren’t being propped open,” Frisz said. “Look for security weaknesses.”

He called it “hardening” schools which are too often “soft” targets.

Frisz said he hopes the funding becomes permanent. Scheffler also wishes it last.

“I think it should be with all that’s happening,” Scheffler said. “Maybe that will keep people from trying to do that if they know there’s an armed officer.”

Frisz said there were benefits beyond the physical presence.

“Based on social media and things (students are) posting on social media…our officers can act on that,” he said. “Being in school, getting that information, I think we intercept a lot that doesn’t make the media.”

The goal is for officers to develop relationships with students and often identify issues before they lead to violence.