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Letters 1-18-2013

School violence

There is no safety

The recent article on school security here in Hawaii was very disturbing. None of the “experts” quoted in the piece was able to explain what a school staff is supposed to do when they are confronted by an active shooter.

I have noticed that school officials, police officers and others involved in the area of school security always avoid addressing this specific problem: What to do if a person has entered a school and is shooting staff and students.

This reluctance to speak to this is probably because there is really nothing a school staff can do when confronted by an active shooter, as was the case with the recent shooting at Sandy Hook.

As Mark Behrens, the Department of Education’s director of safety, security and emergency preparedness stated in the article, school security guards are not authorized to carry any type of weapon that would help them deal with an active shooter. They cannot carry firearms, nightsticks, tasers or even pepper spray. So what would a security guard do, ask the shooter if he could please stop shooting people?

The truth is our children are not safe in our schools. There is absolutely no one on any campus who is armed and trained to deal with an active shooter. In the few schools that do have a police officer, I have been informed that the officer is often not on campus as his is doing police duties elsewhere, and again, the vast majority of schools do not have a police officer.

One needs to also consider most of these schools shootings are planned out in great detail by the shooter, so one would think if the shooter was aware a police officer was on campus that would be the first person he would shoot.

I was disgusted by Mr. Behrens’ statement that, “meaningful relationships at schools are the best way to prevent active shooter situations.”

So is he implying that Sandy Hook Elementary did not have “meaningful relationships”? At the point where someone has a gun out and is shooting staff and students the idea of “meaningful relationships” becomes moot.

Does Mr.Behrens want to go to Sandy Hook and tell those parents whose children were killed that their school should have had better “meaningful relationships” and then the shooting would not have happened?

As one of his “prevention techniques” Behrens says schools should have “clear signage so visitors know how to report their presence.” How does this help to stop an active shooter? Is the shooter going to check in with the front desk — before he starts shooting people?

Nowhere in this article did anyone provide an answer of to how to deal with an active shooter. Our school staffs are untrained and unarmed, our security guards have no weapons, the only conclusion is once an individual has entered your child’s school and started shooting, there is nothing anyone can do except get shot.

There is no one on campus who is trained, armed and prepared to stop an active shooter. Parents need to understand this and they need to start demanding major changes in school safety.

Schools need to be made difficult to enter, all individuals who do enter need to be evaluated as to their threat level, staff need to be trained in exactly what to do when the bullets start flying; all schools need to have armed/trained security guards, etc.

At this point our children are not safe; that’s the truth, just like the kids and staff at Sandy Hook were not safe. Are you aware there was another school shooting in California yesterday?

Parents, without your voices clamoring loudly for change —real and dramatic changes — nothing is going to happen and all we are doing is waiting until the next school shooting. Mr.Behrens, you should be ashamed of yourself,

Bill Harlan



Intermediate School