Archive for the ‘School safety’ Category

“My high school SRO’s nickname was Barney Fife”

June 9, 2022

What’s reasonable to expect from School Resource Officers?

In a prior post  we asked the question: “So, would YOU have charged the Uvalde school shooter?”

I admitted that I probably wouldn’t have … and laid out 4 criteria that might have motivated me to act:

  1. A threatened family member, e.g. a grandkid
  2. Some probability greater than zero that the periled life would be saved
  3. Enough physical might and equipment to. conceptually, get the job done.
  4. A probability greater than zero that charging wouldn’t  simply be a futile suicide mission.

Draw your own conclusion as to whether those criteria are reasonable and compelling.


I ended that post with WSJ, columnist Peggy Noonan’s opinion regarding the first police officers on site at Ulvade — namely, the SROs:

It was their job to go in.

If you can’t cut it, then don’t join and get the badge, the gun and the pension.

We can’t let it settle in that the police can’t be relied on to be physically braver than other people.

An implicit agreement in going into the profession is that you’re physically brave.

Let’s add some perspective to Noonan’s castigation….


An armed SRO in every school?

There seems to be a consensus building that all school’s should have an armed law enforcer on site.

I’m OK with that but…

Keep in mind that are over 130,000 K-12 schools in the U.S. Source

  • Elementary schools: 87,498
  • Secondary schools: 26,727
  • Combined schools: 15,804

Assuming an average of $50,000 (per year, per SRO) in wages, benefits and equipment, that works out to about $6.5 billion annually.

But, it’s not about money, it’s about kids’ lives, so let’s push that number aside and move on.


How to staff those 130,000+ positions?

Ideally, I personally would like to see a former Navy Seal, Army Ranger or Green Beret … well-armed (yes, with a so-called “assault rifle”) … standing (not sitting) at the single (locked) access door to my grandkids’ schools.

But, that’s not a reasonable expectation.

First, there aren’t enough of them to staff 130,000 schools

Second, even if there were, they wouldn’t take the job … it’s not in their DNA to hang out waiting for lightning to strike.

So, who do we get to fill the SRO positions?

Newbie or “pastured” police officers?  Retired military? Rent-a-cops?

As former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. put it: “My high school SRO’s nickname was Barney Fife”

For younger readers, Barney Fife was a self-confident but inept police officer on the Andy Griffith Show.

He was on the police force in the rural, crime-free town of Mayberry RFD … and, for fear that he might hurt himself (or somebody else), he was only allowed to carry an unloaded gun with a single bullet tucked in his shirt pocket. Source

That’s a bit harsh, but realistically, probably more representative than, say, Rambo-clones.

SROs draw relatively small paychecks  … and, given the long odds of being confronted with a crazed active shooter, don’t really anticipate that they’ll need to put their lives on the line.

If they did, many wouldn’t want the job … and most would want higher pay.


And, how will they be equipped?

Will SRO’s carry automatic weapons, wear body armor and have ready access gun fire shields?

My hunch is that many (most?) folks would understandably find that sort of personal protection equipment to be emotionally disturbing to the school students.

So, the SRO’s would have to make do with handguns and bullet-proof vests.

Not exactly a fair fight against a well-armed active shooter.


Bottom line

All of the above not withstanding, I’m all for SROs in every school.

But, I think we need to constrain our expectations about what they’re able to do.

Going mano-a-mano to neutralize a crazed assault-gunner isn’t a realistic expectation, Ms. Noonan.

It’s not part of the “implicit agreement”.

Rather expect SROs to train teachers & students, red-flag (aka, “profile”) trouble-makers, keep the doors locked and call. for help if and when hell breaks.

That’s not all bad … and, in fact, can be a critical part of providing school security.

More on that in a subsequent post.

Facial recognition: Why not in schools?

July 31, 2018

Some schools are already doing it!

Many schools have security systems that include cameras sending live feeds that are monitored by security personnel.

The AP reports that some Lockport, NY  schools are going a step further by implementing facial recognition technology that checks each face against a database of expelled students, sex offenders, disgruntled employees and other possible troublemakers.


In addition, the system can be programmed to scan for some weapon “tells” (think: guns or knives in waistbands) and can be matched against a complete file of student and faculty pictures.

Though the system has potential life-saving benefits, some folks are opposing it…


Students push back on ‘common sense’ safety measures

April 2, 2018

… because they “infringe on our rights”

According to the NY TImes

Since the Florida school shootings, the state and local school district have taken some steps to provide enhanced security:

The state “set aside $8.5 million for the school district to pay for at least one armed police officer at each school starting in the fall” … and, supplemental Florida Highway Patrol troopers will be deployed to “on alert” schools.

In Broward County, “all schools … will have single points of entry by early 2019.”

“Students and staff will be issued identification badges, which they will be required to wear at all times while in school.”

My POV: This is a good first step, which can eventually beefed up with scannable IDs … or, better yet, RFID trackers.

So far, so good.


Here’s where the rub comes in …


America’s safest school …

March 9, 2018

Yesterday, we highlighted some of the techno-security innovations at Disney World.

All park attendees (10s of thousands each day) are screened at the entry gate, bag-checked and digitally-fingerprinted.

Guests wear identity-linked Magic Bands that contain RFID chips … allowing their every movement around the park to be real-time tracked.

Cameras are everywhere … and thousands of pictures are snapped by cute Disney characters …  (for facial recognition probably.)

Beneath the terrain is an army of well-armed former SWATs and SEALs … ready to deploy instantaneously if a security event arises.

That’s the state-of-the-art at amusement parks.



Here’s the state-of-the-art for schools …



Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, Indiana is oft-cited as “the safest school in America” Source

The core components in the SHS security system:

1) Cameras mounted throughout the school providing real-time video feeds to the local law enforcement offices (think: casino video rooms)

2) All teachers have emergency fobs that can be used to set off a school wide alarm and simultaneous alert law enforcement… who rush to the school and ask questions later.

3) If an active shooter is suspected, “students barricade themselves in a corner out of view of a potential shooter who might be looking through the windows of a locked, bullet-proof classroom doors.” (think: submarine compartments)

4) An electronic device in each classroom enables a teacher to signal if students are safe or to signal if medical assistance is needed.tell law enforcement their classroom is safe, signal if they need medical aid or ask for help if they’ve seen the suspect.

5) If a shooter is pinpointed on the real-time videos, the the area can be sealed off and, if appropriate, smoke cannons can be activated to limit the shooter’s visibility.

6) Local law enforcement has clear protocols that direct first-responders to enter the school and “neutralize” the shooter.  Police do regular practice runs “just in case”. (think: not Broward County Sheriff’s department)

Click to view a video of the safest school in America

See, Say. Hear, DO !

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Seriously, do you want ME packing heat?

February 28, 2018

In yesterday’’s post, I advocated posting this sign at all schools ASAP.



It sends a clear message that students’ safety is important … it might deter one or more potential school shooters … and it cleverly ducks the question of whether school personnel can (or do) pack heat.

How many school personnel are authorized?

Maybe all … or some … or none.

That’s a policy question that needs to be resolved …. but sign-interpretation is in the eyes of the beholders.

Maybe a potential shooter or two will be deterred.

That’s enough to justify the signs.


OK, so what about the policy question?


School safety: Here’s something that can be done today …

February 27, 2018

There’s a rationale and some evidence – albeit spotty and disputable  — that the following types of signs deter most burglars:



So, here’s the sign that I’d post at all schools starting today…


The sheriff’s BIG mistake …

February 26, 2018

During last week’s CNN-staged “Town Hall”, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel attacked NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.

Israel told Loesch that she wasn’t standing up for the students:

“You just told this group of people that you are standing up for them. You’re not standing up for them, until you say I want less weapons.”

The hand-picked CNN crowd erupted in support.


He was the hero of the moment, but may rue his attack.

Predictably, the NRA struck back:


Does the NRA have a point?


“See something, Say something.” isn’t good enough.

February 23, 2018

There were chilling social media threats.

A hard tip to the FBI.

39 welfare calls to local police.

The school’s armed security officer “stood outside the building where the shooting occurred rather than going in” Source

The first 3 first-responders (sheriff’s deputies) stayed outside waiting for SWAT to arrive.

Why say something if an alert (1) puts you at risk of a defamation suit and (2) isn’t likely to result in any preventative action?

The egregious miss by the FBI, local police, social services and school officials seems to have already vanished from the post-mortem discussion.

Here’s the bumper sticker I want to see.



And, can we please stop talking about having a “conversation”.

Let’s have a plan … and start implementing it!




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