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David Griffith

David Griffith

David Griffith has been editor of POLICE Magazine since December 2001. He brings more than 25 years of experience on magazines and newspapers to POLICE. A Maggie award-winning journalist, his byline has appeared on hundreds of articles in POLICE and other national magazines.

Melanie Basich

Melanie Basich

Managing Editor Melanie Basich joined POLICE Magazine in 2000 (when her last name was still Hamilton). An award-winning journalist, she has covered such topics as agency budgets, officer suicide, emerging law enforcement technologies, and active shooter tactics. She writes and manages the product section of POLICE.
Editor's Notes

To Prevent School Shootings, Show Some Muscle

The Florida massacre is clear evidence that we need greater police presence in our schools.

February 23, 2018  |  by - Also by this author

The massacre at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, has angered many people in this country. Just as we were putting this issue to bed much of that anger was turned toward a 59-year-old Broward County Sheriff’s deputy who served as the school’s resource officer.

Sheriff Scott Israel announced that Deputy Scot Peterson resigned/retired from the sheriff’s office after an investigation of his actions during the active shooter’s rampage showed that he remained outside the school while students and staff were being killed inside.

It is one of the most sacred precepts of law enforcement that officers run toward the sound of gunfire to save lives when others run away. So I’m not going to defend this deputy.

What I am going to say is having this deputy as the SRO at Douglas High was a perfect storm of having the wrong person, perhaps with the wrong training, and definitely with the wrong equipment in place for this horrific event.

The day before Sheriff Israel revealed to the world what some people are calling an act of “cowardice” by one of his deputies, he announced that he was issuing rifles to his county’s sworn SROs. Which begs the question why didn’t Broward County SROs have rifles before the Parkland gunman blew away 17 innocent lives.

One of the primary reasons officers don’t have the equipment they need when hell comes to town is that the agency doesn’t have the money to buy it. That might be part of the reason here.

However, it’s more likely that the reason Broward County’s SROs don’t have rifles is the rampant anti-gun feelings of some educators and school boards. This is the same philosophy that often leads schools to mandate that uniformed law enforcement officers can’t carry their sidearms onto school property when they come to pick up their kids. Which is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard, except one.

That one thing is this story a teacher told me. "The SWAT team came into my class today,” he said. What he called the "SWAT team" was actually unarmed school security. They came into his classroom to check students for weapons. That’s the mindset in many school systems in this country. They send, emphasis here—unarmed—security teams into classrooms to search for armed students without any thought to what these folks might do if they find a weapon on a student who is willing to use it. It’s the same mindset that keeps rifles out of the hands of sworn SROs.

We don’t yet have details on whether the Broward deputy had actually received any practical training on how to engage an active shooter. But I’ll bet he didn’t. Training is expensive and the only time any municipality or county ever seems to find the money to pay for any training beyond the basics is right after a major incident. To paraphrase the very eloquent Dave Grossman, people are sheep and they “only have two speeds: graze and stampede.”

After Parkland the stampede is on. Everyone is trying to find ways to prevent the next school massacre. They want to ban AR-15s, or train teachers to carry and shoot back, or find ways to commit more people to mental hospitals.

Here’s my solution. We need deterrence. And the Broward County and South Florida schools especially need deterrence. Experts say school shootings and threats of school shootings have a tendency to reoccur in the same county. The theory is that the publicity surrounding the initial shooting puts the idea of shooting up a school into the minds of people with such leanings either from innate evil, personal grudge, or mental health issues.

Deterrence is not just a matter of having armed personnel or even sworn officers in the schools; it’s having the right officer, with the right equipment, and the right training.

So my proposal is to either modify the school officer program or augment it with a more effective school shooting response/deterrent. Immediately after 9/11 soldiers with M4 carbines patrolled the nation’s airports. So let’s do the same thing in our schools, except with cops.

Let's put well-armed, well-trained cops with warrior-guardian mindsets in the schools at least in the high schools. And let's have them carry rifles as they patrol the campus. I know, I know…people will scream militarism. Tough. If we really want our schools to be safe, then we need a little militarism.

Comments (5)

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Jon Retired LEO @ 2/23/2018 4:59 PM

Excellent points Dave, keep them coming and maybe the liberals will have what we used to call an old fashioned Hissy and not even be able to talk.

bert a. @ 2/23/2018 8:20 PM

finally someone has the guts to address this issue.teachers are not cops and cannot be trained to handle this situation. the public will not pay for the solution so we will continue to have these incidents continue. it's like drunk driving, it continues and we have not resolved the problem.

Grey Bear @ 2/24/2018 11:45 AM

Seriously Dave?!? Don't misunderstand, I agree with you, and have preached basically the same ideology for some time, as the jurisdiction I recently retired from had one of the first such school shootings back in the 90's...but too many of the "I'm okay, you're okay", tree-hugging libtards in charge of things like our school districts will have seizures just reading your article...and if someone actually compels them to take action their heads will explode!

Brian @ 2/24/2018 11:52 AM

The reason for this failure comes from "sheriff" scott israel. He is a useless politician . Pathetic weak leadership. Resign now.

brian @ 2/24/2018 12:12 PM

The guy choked and that caused lives to be lost, now reports say maybe several of them. but the failure of the team is the responsibility of the leadership. where does the buck stop? The sheriff needs to resign too. Attacking his deputy to shift the eyes from him shows what kind of leader he is.

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