I started writing this post last week, prior to the school shooting at Arapahoe High School on Friday 12/13/13. We were approaching the 1 year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting and there was a bit of reflection on it. I’ve edited what I wrote a bit since last Friday, but just publishing now. You likely know we are located in the Denver suburbs and do at times train many of the law enforcement in the area. So another one very close to home. Originally this post was 5 Things We Know Since Sandy Hook. But now it is just some thoughts in general.
- As far as Sandy Hook goes – Several things were done by right by Law Enforcement / Emergency Medical Services across the board that horrific day. Teachers and first responders are everyday heroes in our opinion but certainly proved that at a year ago in Newtown. Details regarding Arapahoe High School have yet to emerge, but we do know that the school SRO ran towards the shots and their quick action and heroic activity made this incident over very quickly.
- We have come a very long way from Columbine where the term “active shooter” was coined and the harsh reality of “this will happen again” came to light on all aspects prevention / planning and response by LE / EMS and school faculty.
- There is still room for improvement just like every other industry. LE / EMS and school faculty must continually evaluate their current practices to ensure they are in fact not operating at the standard, but slightly ahead of the standard – always seeking the latest and best programs and information. This will keep them truly prepared and our kids actually safe. In a nutshell we have to strive to be one step ahead of this violent ever changing trend.
- We can not rely solely on LE and EMS alone to save our children. It’s unfortunate but it is the reality. This country will never have enough resources, mostly the funding, to put a cop in every school, not even enough for a security guard. We need to stop worrying about liability and give our teachers “our first line of defense” more training. I may or may not go as far as to say let’s arm them all. But we can certainly train them how not to be a victim and empower them with more knowledge instead of to lock the door and hide in the corner. This common practice does nothing to up the chances of survival of our students and teachers. It only provides a false sense of security. Our practices in LE have changed ten fold since that dark day after Columbine and have continued to evolve over the past 12 1/2 years. Yet the majority of our schools are still practicing what we implemented after Columbine. The 12 1/2 year old plan we teach our school faculty is no longer effective enough and yes there are better alternatives. We need to again stop worrying about liability and empower our school faculty with effective tools. Their actions will save more lives then the 100’s of LE officers who will arrive to help.
- We will continue to see these tragic events unfold unless along with other measures common sense mental health reforms are put in place. Those in the LE community will tell you the mental health system is broken and nothing is being done to correct the problem this country is facing. A great place to start would be implementing a flagging system into the firearm background check process. A system similar to the ones already in place for felons and those convicted of a domestic violence related crime. This would prevent those with known severe mental health issues from easily accessing a firearm. We all know there is not a definite single solution, but certainly common sense approaches like this would better then a high capacity magazine restriction or more firearm bans which does absolutely nothing to prevent crime.