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Letter: Edgewood leader comments on armed guards for schools

Editor:

Any jurisdiction considering arming educators with the expectation that they will be the initial armed- response to school shootings, had better make sure that these educators are properly trained and evaluated.

The professionals (police officers), who carry a firearm as one of the tools of their trade, undergo extensive ongoing firearms training, to prepare them to shoot accurately under extremely stressful situations. And still, they make mistakes. What can be expected from educators who receive far less training?

Those considering arming educators to respond to school shootings must first determine if the educator will be allowed to carry the weapon on his/her person, or will the firearm be secured in a locked container?

Next consideration must be given to the various scenarios that an armed-educator could be expected to face and then train to those scenarios. School districts must take into consideration the potential legal implications arising from a child, teacher, or visitor who is injured/killed by an improperly-trained, armed-educator.

Armed response training for educators should include decision-making scenarios. For example, training drills might include scenarios to help the responder determine if and when to pull the firearm from the holster (if they carry) or the locked cabinet/container; if and when to shoot in crowded environment; how to conduct a search of the building/area for the armed intruder; or engaging multiple armed intruders.

Now imagine a scenario in which an improperly-trained, armed-educator is attempting to engage an armed intruder in a classroom, cafeteria, playground or hallway full of scared, running, screaming and crying children-which may very well be the case.

Police departments also use evaluation tools to help determine how well a candidate can handle stress and therefore can be armed. Jurisdictions considering arming educators had better make sure that the right educators are armed. The school community, justice system, not to mention the general public will be counting on the armed-educator's judgment. Just because educators are mentally competent to teach, does not mean that they are mentally competent to be armed responders in schools.

The NRA CEO has recommended placing an "Armed Professional" in every school. And President Obama has suggested that we have got to somehow "change" our culture of violence. Everything that contributes to safe and secure learning environments has to be on the table for discussion.

Protecting our most valuable assets requires the courage to identify and undertake every reasonable and necessary measure to include those things that we may be philosophically and politically opposed to doing.

Jansen Robinson, Chair

Edgewood Community Council

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