Wednesday morning on the front page, above the fold, Florida Today’s headline was- Ivey: Table school marshal program.
I was shocked. Wayne Ivey championed the idea of armed school personnel almost immediately after the school shooting in Parkland. And he has been right in doing so. The idea is to protect the students and employees of our schools who are confined in a “gun free” target rich environment all day, every day.
And while the left has successfully diverted the discussion to one of gun control as opposed to actual school safety measures, I was worried that they had successfully redirected our sheriff along their dangerous path. The headline certainly reads that way.
Wayne and I share similar law enforcement experience and we understand the dynamic of an active shooter situation and of relying on only one person, the School Resource Officer, to respond to that shooter. Didn’t we all see how that, for whatever reason, didn’t work in Parkland?
The detractors of the School Guardian (Marshal) program do not have that same understanding of dealing with someone trying to kill another (or several others). I am glad they don’t; what every day person wants to deal with such things? But it makes them misinformed when they advocate for positions that, quite frankly, will lead to dead bodies in school hallways. They have never had to contemplate the actions they might take in such a situation. They have nearly zero knowledge of just how trained our law enforcement personnel are in dealing with such a scenario. Their ignorance advances a comforting, but lacking agenda that every school needs a School Resource Officer. They fear Guardians will not be as well trained or as well equipped either physically or emotionally to handle the job. They are dead wrong.
The Guardian program as developed by the sheriff will be comprised of 176 hours (5 weeks) of training dedicated to this one issue. The applicants for the program will have extensive backgrounds done before being accepted that include concealed carry training and obtaining a permit, pre-acceptance interviews, psychological and drug testing and more training than the average police officer gets in many years of a career on active shooters. They will be fully deputized members of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office for this one purpose.
The ignorance of the opposition is dangerous for our kids. The opposition is vocal, relentless and wrong in their understanding and their assertions. They also throw out phrases like, “teachers should teach, they didn’t become teachers to be cops,” and the like as they imply that the people they entrust with their children every day for the entire school year will become ruthless killers of kids if they are armed at work. They also try to play the race card asserting that children of color will be targets of teachers who are armed. There is nowhere that race is less a factor than in a school shooting.
In fact, there are only two factors in that situation. Either you are in possession of a gun or you are a potential victim. Black, Hispanic, White, Asian, Indian, Polynesian, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist or agnostic-none of these matter. The shooter is shooting. Can you stop him? That is ALL that matters in this situation. Defender or potential bleeding body on the floor are your choices. It’s pretty simple to me. Why don’t they see it?
And then there is the School Board and the Superintendent (and this is where Wayne’s frustration comes into play). It’s been nearly two months since Parkland. The idea of the Guardian program has been on the table for at least a month and half of that time. The Superintendent and the entirety of the Board stood with Wayne as he announced the program in implicit, if not outright support. And nothing has happened on the Board or Superintendent’s part since then.
It appears we are in another delay by the board as Andy Ziegler told us on Tuesday’s show that action is unlikely even at the May 8th board meeting. That must change. The board has to approve the program to trigger state funding that would allow the training dollars to be released. If approved by then, with an 8 week summer recess for schools, there is time for 3 to 5 classes of Guardians to be trained and ready. But, remember the selection process? That will take time as well.
That the Superintendent and apparently the board want to take an information gathering tour of the district to feel out the public on the issue is not only stupid, it’s irresponsible. More delay means less background, selection and training time. The law mandates school districts be ready by school year 2018/2019. Act now, or be a district that says our school safety is not as important as we led you to believe. It really is that simple.
The board was elected and the superintendent hired to make the tough calls regardless of public sentiment or impact on future elections. The right thing is not always easy, but it is always the right thing. The board needs to take the educated position on school safety even if detractors and other boards around the state or nation are not. Doing anything less jeopardizes our kids and school personnel.
Wayne’s frustration showed in the headline, and I can understand the desire to get as much of the ST.O.M.P. Program in play as soon as possible. But if the Guardian program is left out, we have to ask just what the acceptable number of bodies in hallways is when the next shooter is at our door. While the uneducated public can think all they like that one cop is protection, those in the know most certainly do know better. And while multiple guardians may not stop the initial event, they will certainly be better trained and more capable of limiting the death and injuries than an SRO in the wrong place or away from the scene altogether when the unimaginable happens.
It’s the board and superintendent’s job to be educated on this, leaving consideration of political philosophy out of it, and make a decision now. Polling the public and employees will be meaningless; they are uneducated and, quite frankly, politically motivated on the issue. Informational meetings are for after the decision is made. Delay in this case means they have shirked the responsibility they hold. Should that occur, they are unqualified to have the positions they hold. Yes, it is that serious!