From coast to coast we are seeing a terrible phenomenon of school shootings. The heart rendering stories from Colorado to Pennsylvania remind us that we never know where or when one of these incidents will occur. Much has been made about these two incidents since they were not students but “outsiders” who entered and did their terrible acts.
A deeper truth is exposed here. Violence-prone random actors are finding an easy target for their various forms of rage and it is time law enforcement and educational professionals come together and form an alliance to defense at our schools. Many think in the post-Columbine world educators are focused on school protection, but my experience is that this isn’t necessarily so. In recent months, at least one large independent school district was seeking to disarm its fully commissioned security officers.
Other schools do not allow their School Resource Officers to wear their weapons exposed on school property. These officers have been forced to wear fanny packs if they want to be able to protect the schools they are assigned to. Newsline knows it is not Law Enforcement’s fault that the two cultures are so divergent in their beliefs, but Police leaders must call for a closer alliance and coordination to help secure our children’s safety while in the care of those institutions.
As a law enforcement officer patrolling an area with schools or where you may be a responder to schools it is essential you learn the various approaches to these locations. Note if you have a blind approach that allows you to invisibly deploy or advance on the building without being observed. Talk to students and parents about calling if anything suspicious or unusual occurs, even if it is over and the subject or situation is gone.
Regularly do a crisis rehearsal in your mind, doing all the tactics and movements you would need to stop an active shooter in your assigned area. Keep a diagram of your schools available…you could be the key to a successful resolution.
This is a real threat since we know terrorists, students, outsiders, dysfunctional actors all see schools as valid targets. We need to train top to bottom on ways to deal with this and that means starting with training call takers and dispatchers on what critical questions to ask immediately, having Supervisors contact and work with School Security, Commanders need to lead the effort to bridge the gaps between the law enforcement community and the educational establishment.
Finally, whatever your assignment see what you can do to improve the security of our schools and educate the students, parents, teachers, and even custodians in what steps to take to make our children safer.