Update on Cops in Schools – Washington Twp. Considers it – Would You Support It?
Yesterday I asked the question if you'd support the idea of having a police officer stationed in each district school as a way to combat the intrusion of a madman with a gun, hellbent on taking out lives.
And I quoted this from the Manalapan Englishtown School District website:
In light of the horrific events in Newtown, Connecticut, the Manalapan Police Department has informed the district that they are going to increase their presence at all of the district's schools.
This will include having an officer at each school during the beginning of the day and at dismissal time each day, to the extent that this is possible given the day-to-day responsibilities of the department.
Additionally, the Manalapan Police Department will conduct a random walk through of each school every day. Chief Marsala has also instructed all officers to drive through the school parking lots periodically during their tours of duty.
Just this past Thursday, the proposal was being talked about in Washington Township, according to this:
Last Thursday evening, members of the Washington Township council and the mayor met with the Board of Education to discuss a variety of shared service issues, including the cost of the school resource officer, a township police officer that’s stationed full-time at Washington Township High School. Their discussion, like many held by elected officials nationwide, focused on reducing expenses.
They debated the salary, if the township could take on some costs — the district currently reimburses the township about $100,000 for his service — or if there were different, cost-saving options available.
Many members agreed that they “needed to find a way to spend less money without compromising student safety,” as Board Member Josh Aronovitch put it.
Board Member Kurt Snyder weighed in quickly.
“My worst fear is an active shooter,” Snyder said Thursday evening. “I don’t want anyone else but a regular cop in the building, preferably, one of ours.”
The next morning, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., alleged gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who officials say shot his way into the school through a window.
“When I found out the next day, the first thing I thought about was the night before,” said Snyder on Monday afternoon, reflecting on the somewhat eerie coincidence. “My mind went right back to that, because it isn’t like I was just guessing about it.”
Snyder said that he had recently read a book about the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School.
“The problem with Columbine was that there was no officer in the building. [Police] can be there in 10 or 15 minutes, but they couldn’t get into the building or figure out how to enter.”
He said that’s why there needs to be a renewed conversation about the district’s security and relationship with the local police.
“That’s why I feel like you need to be an armed officer, not a security guard. [A shooting] is my biggest fear. People need to realize, at this point right now, you know cost can’t be the factor that drives this,” Snyder said. “It has to be what’s effective, not what’s cost effective.”
Snyder said that while placing armed police officers in every single one of the district’s 11 schools might not be possible, there needs to be a change. Currently, there is one SRO stationed at the high school, the district's largest school with more than 2,500 students.
“It has to be looked at as what’s best and not so much what’s affordable. I’m not saying you can spend as much as you want. I wish we could do something like put cops in every school, but I don’t know that we can do that. We need to have a serious discussion about making it better and not just leaving it alone.”
Obviously having a police officer stationed at each school would probably send taxes through the roof.
But let’s be honest…a police officer, or someone who'd been affiliated with law enforcement would be the best choice to handle matters such as this, instead of putting in the hands of teachers or administrators, who may not be trained in the safe operation of firearms.
It would instill the much needed element of confidence that our schools are safe havens where children don’t have to fear going each and every day.