The “thank you, sir; may I have another?” tour is over and the School Board has made the decision to not implement the Sheriff’s STOMP program, but rather, to hire the school’s own armed security staff.
It was a previously undiscussed option that appeased some and disappointed many. Here is what the new program is: a start.
- It complies with the new school safety law passed by the legislature.
- It puts an armed person in every school under the board’s jurisdiction.
- It requires the same background screening and training as the guardian program.
- And, it opens the door to providing real, necessary security in the future.
While one armed defender per school is a good start, it is not nearly enough to effectively address an active shooter. It would take at least 3 or 4 of these people to be close to effectively addressing an incident.
Should an active shooter engage at one of our schools, this is lipstick on a pig. It looks good, but it really isn’t much help. This is the same problem as only one School Resource Officer being at a school. It’s great if the armed defender is near the location where the shooting begins. If he’s not, as I have said, bodies are piling up until someone armed can get there and encounter the shooter.
To be ready to respond there would need to be armed personnel in each wing or area of a school campus. Response time is critical. One body can not adequately cover most schools in the district. That was the genius in the guardian or marshal program. Staff already in place, only for the active shooter response, would be scattered around the campus and able to respond when the unimaginable happened. Not so, not yet.
There is hope, even if slight, that the board will revive the STOMP program in its entirety. They tabled the idea and it may be brought back up for discussion and another decision in the future. Let’s hope that happens, because if it doesn’t, the lipstick is on the pig and the pig is just inadequate for the job we ask of it.