Posted on

Officers another line of defense

My Opinion
Alan Stewart, Staff Writer

My daughters are ages 10 and 8. The world they live in now is remarkably different than the one I grew up in when I was their age.
There was no Internet, there were only five channels on television (if you were lucky enough and had the aluminum foil formed just right), the price of gas was about a buck, wearing seat belts wasn’t mandatory and the only type of shooting done on school grounds were either at a basketball goal or through a straw as we’d pepper some unsuspecting soul with spitwads.
Since 2002 (birth year of my oldest daughter), 127 people have died in the United States as the result of some type of school shooting (from kindergarten through college). Twenty-seven of those killed were gunned down in the Newtown, Conn., massacre in December.
Unfortunately, that’s the world my daughters live in today.
Before, and after, Newtown, I believe my daughters are safe at school. There’s not much likelihood that someone will blow their top and decide to take it out on innocent children. Am I 100 percent certain it will never happen? No, and outside of constructing a bomb shelter as a school and wrapping my children in bubble wrap and Kevlar vests, it never will be that safe.
Coupled with locked exterior and classroom doors throughout the school day, I believe the implementation of school resource officers ‘ off-duty police officers ‘ at the South Harrison Community School Corp.’s campuses will make my children safer.
Could something still happen? Yes.
So how could they be safer if something could still happen?
Wearing seat belts makes passengers in a vehicle safer. So do airbags. Crunch-zones designed to take impacts away from passengers help, too.
But even if every safety feature works exactly as it should, there’s still a chance ‘ albeit a lesser one ‘ that death could occur in the event of a crash.
In a worst-case scenario, I would rather a school resource officer be my daughters’ first line of defense against a would-be attacker instead of unarmed principals and staff members. Most school days, the officers can interact with students and build a positive relationship with a member of the law enforcement community.
In regard to cost, a full year of three officers for about $110,000 would cost roughly the same amount as a pair of shoes for each student in the corporation.
We have become accustomed to armed security at airports, concerts, basketball games and many other locations. How many shootings in those locations do we hear about? Should defenseless children be any less of a priority?
I think South Harrison got it right when it brought in SROs. My only concern is that there’s one officer to be split between New Middletown and Heth-Washington elementary schools, which are a little more than 10 miles apart. If we’re going to try to protect our students, then we need to try to protect all of our students.
I asked my daughters what they thought about having police in their schools and both agreed they thought they were safer.
Peace of mind for them is peace of mind for me.