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Two recent news items demonstrate precisely how starkly different school administrators can be when it comes to their attitudes regarding police.

The two items appeared in our headlines within a week of each other, and they could not have had more different reactions from police and the public alike.

Here's a brief review of recent events.

First, the Good News...

In the first item, Julie Kraemer—a school superintendent in Illinois—became a certified and sworn law enforcement officer so she could carry a concealed weapon at school in order to respond to an active shooter.

Kraemer began her training earlier this year because her school district didn't have funding to hire a full-time school resource officer, and she wanted to protect the kids in her school in the event of an attack.

"If somebody comes in to try to hurt my kids, we have something other than a stapler to throw at them," the 51-year-old educator said.

"We're no longer a soft target," she said.

Julie Kraemer is a shining example of the kind of people—people with truly remarkable character and wisdom—we need to have in American schools.

Now, the Bad News…

Meanwhile, another school administrator should probably be fired for what he did—or more accurately, didn't do.

Torrey Hampton—Principal of the Forest Hill High School in Mississippi—failed to stop a disturbing display by that school's marching band in which his students imitated the murder of police officers.

Images depicting the murder of police officers caused widespread outrage—with the "performance" coming just days after two Brookhaven police officers were killed in the line of duty responding to a shots-fired call.

Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox said in a statement on Facebook, "The halftime performance conducted by the Forest Hill Band at our Brookhaven High School home football game last night was inappropriate, irresponsible, and insensitive to say the least. It was a horrific display of disrespect demonstrated toward our local law enforcement, our students and families in attendance of the game, and all citizens of Brookhaven. It is disturbing that the Forest Hill routine has been performed previously with no repercussions to faculty members or administrators, especially given the fact weapons were involved. Even though the weapons were obviously toy guns, it is still a serious violation of school policy."

Knowingly allowing this kind of violent imagery to occur is unconscionable, but let's say—just for the sake of argument—that Principal Hampton had no knowledge that his students were performing this "halftime routine" on a weekly basis.

That makes him woefully ignorant of important facts about events at his school.

In either case—whether it was willful indifference or professional incompetence—Principal Hampton should probably be removed from his position.

Focusing on the Positive

I don't want to linger too long on Forest Hills High or their reprehensible "halftime show"—purposely hanging onto negative feelings of anger and outrage is unhealthy and unproductive.

I want instead to focus on the positive—singing the praises of Superintendent Kraemer—and restating my argument that teachers should be allowed to arm themselves in schools.

I have contended for years that a small number of teachers in America should be allowed to carry concealed on campus—on a handful of important conditions.

1. These people must be volunteers. This not an assignment to be handed out. These individuals must be self-selected.

2. They must undergo law enforcement training—not just in firearms, but in the law as it relates to lethal force, and basic police tactics for "running to the sound of the guns" in a way that's less likely to get them killed.

3. They must qualify to law enforcement standards. This includes the psych evaluation as well as their proficiency with their chosen weapon. They must requalify at the same intervals as the officers working for the police agency that trained them.

4. They must be known to area law enforcement as being "a good guy with a gun" and not the active shooter causing the mayhem. At a minimum, a photograph and a description—a cell pnone number would also be a good idea—must be on file with the 911 call center that can then transmit that important information via mobile phone and/or MDT to responding units.

5. They must be completely unknown to the students as having a weapon—this must be the most closely guarded secret on campus. We don't want the 275-pound starting left tackle for the football team figuring out that he can easily gain access to a gun by jumping 145-pound "Miss Smith" as she emerges from the teacher's lounge. We also don't want the active shooter knowing that the abovementioned "Miss Smith" is armed, making her the very first target.

This list would likely ensure that the one person at the school well-suited to adding the responsibility of carrying a firearm on campus is the only one who would be permitted to do so.

Basic Training for Every Teacher

Very few people who get into teaching have the mental, emotional, psychological, or physical fortitude to use deadly force when under imminent threat—most are more likely to cower in fear and perish under fire.

For example, I wouldn't trust Principal Hampton of Forest Hills High to carry a loaded stapler, much less a loaded gun.

SIDEBAR: Yes, I know I said I was going to let go of that issue. I'm trying—really, I am—but I'm still pretty pissed off about it. If you're as angry as me, you can send him an email.

Yeah, I did that research for you, gentle reader.

You can thank me later.

However, I believe that every teacher should receive some level of active shooter response training.

I was speaking earlier this week with my friend Mitch Broulette—the school resource officer I mentioned in this column a couple of weeks ago.

Mitch was telling me about an amazing program he created to train teachers and administrators simple and effective tactics they can use to escape from harm in the event of an attack on the school.

Based on the ALICE model—Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate—Mitch has instructed nearly two thousand civilians in unarmed active shooter response.

After our discussion, Mitch and I were walking through the vast common space at the school, and we stopped to survey the space.

He motioned his arm in a sweeping fashion.

I'm paraphrasing here, but essentially he said, "If we get a call of a shooter near the principal's office, everyone here in this area just has to run."

Mitch gestured behind us, indicating that the principal's office is a good long way away from that location—there would be plenty of time for teachers and students to escape danger.

"We'll come find you," Mitch said. "We've got helicopters and dogs and drones. We'll find you. Just get out and get to safety up in those hills."

Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman says in his training seminars that every school in the nation conducts two or three fire drills per year, despite the fact that not one single child has died from a school fire anywhere in North America in well over a half a century.

At a very minimum, I'd like to see every school in America have the kind of preparedness training for teachers like that's provided by Officer Mitch Broulette in California.

I'd also like see more educators like Superintendent Julie Kraemer in Illinois—people willing to commit to the training necessary to stand in the stead of an SRO who cannot be there because of budget constraints.

Officer Mitch Broulette and Superintendent Julie Kraemer are two true heroes with one unified goal—keeping our kids safe at school.

Thank you—both of you—for everything you do.

Author

Doug Wyllie
Doug Wyllie

Web Editor

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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