School safety is everyone’s responsibility

Published 4:09pm Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dear editor,

The 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Shocked the conscience of the nation, and despite the efforts to make schools safe havens for our children, the problem with school safety still persists.

The recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. opened old safety and security wounds at schools all across the country.

Knee-jerk reactions to tragedies and critical incidents are often predictable. Solutions to combat, mitigate and eliminate potential tragedies at the nation’s schools have been provided by the White House, the state houses, local governments, school boards and even the gun-lobbying National Rifle Association.

The following security measures are currently utilized by various school systems: airport-styled metal detectors, surveillance cameras, hand-geometry readers, bar-coded ID badges, close-circuit TV monitoring systems; remote control doors, banned backpacks, mandatory lock-down drills, random book bag searches, armed security officers, additional school resource officers, routine threat assessment surveys, mental health officers, psychologists, professional profilers, random contraband sweeps, school uniforms, intrusion and panic alarms, business hours controlled access, anonymous threat reporting systems, emergency notification systems, school safety hotlines and of course, practical emergency response plans. The list of security measures may seem infinite, however in the “age of terror,” the measures are very practical.

Sir Robert Peel noted in 1829 that crime prevention was not the sole responsibility of the police, crime prevention is the responsibility of the entire community. Likewise, school safety is everyone’s responsibility — staff, students, parents and the entire community.

The use of technology to secure educational facilities is often impressive; nevertheless, students are the number one source at reporting weapons on school premises.

Knee-jerk reactions are often short-lived. School officials should remain vigilant and select security measures that are both practical and sustainable.

Robert W. Green

Selma, retired Selma Police Chief

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