LACEY, Wash. — Following the Uvalde, Texas school shooting in May, Anthony Triplett said his daughters asked what schools were doing to keep them safe.
Triplett, an Army veteran, said not enough.
Triplett, who was medically retired from the Army in 2018, decided he wanted to help, so he started patrolling the sidewalks around his daughters’ schools in the North Thurston Public Schools district.
He now spends more than 20 hours a week walking around five North Thurston campuses.
“I think the educators should have their role and educate and not have to worry about also being security,” said Triplett.
Triplett wears a handgun on his hip holster, he is licensed to carry it and remains on public sidewalks.
In all his volunteer patrols, he has yet to take any action, but he said he’s ready.
”If I were to hear an explosion or gunshots, see a crowd of students running out, they say, 'Someone’s firing,' I’m going in,” said Triplett who served two combat tours in Afghanistan before having to retire due to a leg injury suffered in combat.
Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza said he would prefer Triplett leave school security to the professionals.
“It’s our job,” said Snaza, who said school resource officers assigned to North Thurston school campuses are required to go through additional training.
Snaza said he appreciates Triplett’s interest and said he would like more veterans to volunteer in classrooms. Snaza thought that kind of presence would make campuses safer.
A spokesperson for the North Thurston Public Schools said the district has received a "handful” of complaints from parents about Triplett’s presence, but said since Triplett is licensed to carry a firearm, and as long as he remains on public property, there’s nothing the schools or law enforcement can do to stop him.
Triplett said all of the in-person feedback he’s received has been positive, but he knows he is making some uncomfortable.
He said it’s worth it if it makes campuses safer.
“What’s the better alternative we can do, right now to keep our kids safe?” asked Triplett. “I don’t cost anything, I’m licensed, I’m trained, and I’m ready.”