We are now in a National Discussion on how to protect our children while they are in school. I watched the talk shows and there is a clear divide on how this might be accomplished.
I have a suggestion, based on my years in law enforcement. I tend to agree with those who would place armed guards in our schools. But there is more to protection than guns. There is also a way to do this that leaves the authority with the local school district, while excluding the Federal Government, and its spare no expense programs. Each local school district should decide how best to protect the children in their district. This is a local issue and does not involve the Federal Government.
The average security agent can be trained to use a gun and fight back against a person with a gun. I suggest if this is all we do, there will be unnecessary killings. My answer to this problem is retired police officers.
An item of concern is the uniform and “military type appearance” of security. Retired police officers dressed in sports jackets and slacks, would appear to the children as a grandparent personality, with no stress invoking image.
We have thousands of policemen, especially here in California, who retire at a relatively young age. These people generally look for something to keep them busy after retirement. I would suggest retired police officers should form the basis of the protection unit for our school system. The best system would consist entirely of retired police officers. If there were not enough retired officers, they could act as supervisors and trainers for those with less experience.
Having a gun and knowing how to use it is only part of a good protection program. This is the reason retired military or the National Guard would not be the best choice. They can handle a weapon, they can stop violence with violence, but they don't have experience dealing with street people. A police officer has years of dealing with people on the street under stressful situations. They deal with people most of us will never meet. It is this experience which will be of equal value to the ability to shoot a bad guy. But more important, the experience will save lives. Lives will be saved in the schools, and also the lives of disturbed shooters, who could be talked out of a shooting.
An example is those mentally ill people who believe they are receiving orders from an outside source. These confused people are often on the street and believe God or some space alien is giving them directions. They are often agitated and fearful that this “director” has control of them. They know something is wrong, but can’t quite put their finger on the cause.
This confusion can lead them to arm themselves for protection. One can never be sure where they will identify the danger. They appear to the public as aggressive, dangerous people. These are the types of mentally ill people who can get themselves shot by an inexperienced security person. But an experienced police officer will have dealt with such conditions numerous times. By listening carefully, giving the mentally ill a chance to explain what is happening, the police officer can help them overcome the “director.” Once calmed and transported to a hospital, they will be helped instead of being shot. In such cases, a possible tragedy would be avoided.
Another is the person trying to commit suicide. Notice how many of these cases involve notes explaining the actions of the shooter. Given the opportunity a well-trained street cop can often have a positive effect on the outcome of such a
confrontation. Sometimes the difference between a shooting and a good outcome, is noticing the suspect wants to tell you about his complaint against society. Once the experienced cop gets the conversation going, the chances of avoiding a shooting improves considerably. Even if it goes bad, there has been time to move children from the area.
Retired police officers often volunteer to help the community they served. Sometimes, they are a little short on retirement money and are willing to accept a position offering lower pay. The community gets the benefit of their experience and they get additional income added to their retirement.
Not every retired officer would be interested in this job. Every experienced retiree who does volunteer to work in the school reduces the expense to hire full time police officers, or part time security guards, to protect the children.
I am nervous about training people to handle guns and then put them in high stress locations such as our schools. A young police officer, after graduating from a police academy, has a training officer. The training officer will ride with them
until they have experience dealing with a number of calls for service. A police officer will have enough experiences, after a month or two on the streets, to protect themselves and the public. A security officer working in a school could go years without getting the same experience.
We should have armed guards in schools. The guards should be retired police officers. The security should be dressed in slacks and a jacket to reduce stress on the children. The guards should be the command presence in the case of violence in our schools. There is experience to show this will save lives.
Every answer does not require the federal government in our local communities. There is ample proof they don’t have answers in Washington, let’s not let them spread their failed ideas to our local schools.