Parents whose children are apprehended by the police during school emergencies say they feel that school resource officers play an important role in maintaining order and preventing mass shootings. They also are concerned that placing police officers in schools could make that officer a target.
But this concern is on display with the families of the 12 schoolchildren and seven adults who were killed in the shooting at the Parkland, Florida, high school. At the elementary school where this deadliest mass shooting in US history occurred, one mom saw this firsthand: After an officer temporarily locked the gate to keep the community out of the crowded school, the officer joked with the mother he could see him in a “B-double,” an open-top car.
The parent asked him to see if they could find out what it was, the police report said. When the officer found out, he told the woman, “We don’t really talk like that.”
The police report and school district statement released Friday showed what public officials have said for months: Neither the police nor school employees, including school resource officers, can discuss ongoing investigations or charges. However, during the initial investigation, school officials did provide information related to charges against the suspect.
The police report also included comments from parents of the alleged shooter. One said the suspect hated authority figures, would abuse marijuana and was obsessed with watching YouTube videos about reloading.
Sandy Hook parents make similar requests
School resource officers are at many US schools and are part of large policing initiatives established following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, when 20 children and six adults were killed. The principal and others at Sandy Hook School were killed, and the shooter was able to shoot himself after police found him in his parents’ home the morning of the shooting.
In some of the public statements released after that incident, the authorities in Newtown, Connecticut, noted that their principal also brought the shooter guns and ammunition, which made it easier for him to carry out the attack.
After the Florida shooting, there have been many calls for administrators to make more use of teachers and other school staff to carry weapons in schools, an idea backed by the President of the United States. Other proposals that have come up include having armed police officers at schools, psychologists and psychiatrists in schools to help children and staff in times of crisis, or allowing teachers to carry guns for protection.
In the Parkland shooting, there have been calls for stricter gun laws, the arming of staff members, psychological counseling and mental health screenings of students.
Some answers have been provided, as the authorities, school administration and community respond.
The Miami-Dade School District’s statement, released Friday, included:
– It will decide what to do with school resource officers. The school district is looking to see if the shooter’s actions should impact plans going forward. The district and our state are closely reviewing resource officer policies.
– “At this time, there is no policy allowing resource officers to carry concealed weapons into the classroom.”
– One current resource officer has offered support and assistance to students, parents and teachers of the shooting.
The Parkland shooting has also spurred an anti-gun movement among parents, concerned that school resource officers are not doing enough to protect children.
“We are facing a threat of unprecedented violence on our campuses,” said Anne Wojcicki, a parent whose children attend the high school.
Jolene LaBauve, a mother of two girls who attend Stoneman Douglas High School, told CNN in a telephone interview: “We need to know how many guns are in the room. We need to know what weapons are in the room, and we want safety in our schools.”
LaBauve believes that law enforcement is performing at a certain level during such emergencies, but added, “The next level needs to be where the police come in and take on a lifestyle like firemen.”
Wojcicki has questions.
“Where are the teachers, that we put so much trust in, who can be trained to have a firearm?”
However, she thinks that no matter how police respond, her girls will know that they “will always be safe at school.”
Also, this is not just a school matter, said Janet Sit, mother of a Stoneman Douglas student. Sit has two children who attend the school. “Our entire society needs to be looking at what could be done to educate children about gun violence.”
At the same time, Sit said she hopes the school district and others will not be seen as using this tragedy as an excuse to arm teachers and other school personnel. “It’s not appropriate and has to be done with due care.”
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