I have been trying to keep my mouth shut about the Florida school shootings this February, 2018, and for that matter, about all school shootings. Parkland, Florida was indeed a perfect storm for the school shooting. All systems failed. A perfect, horror storm of failures. I am not expert on school shootings and I just read over what Ohio Officer Greg Ellifritz and Police Academy Director Ron Borsch write on them. Pretty comprehensive stuff, as Greg and Ron have made it their passion to collect this info. Recently a friend asked me to endorse and comment on his new school shooting book and I flat out told him I couldn’t because I am just not an expert on it. I can however bark about a few points from my personal experience and opinion.
I just have a few simple, overall solutions rattling around my head, like locked, bullet proof doors and windows around those doors – maybe even the whole first floor windows? Then some guards and, or special police officers. Each campus will be different and needs a customized plan. Then, the freedom of some teachers to carry weapons if they wish. And most importantly making an interconnected police computer program to collect and share the selected data on crazy people and guns. As they say, “there outta’ be a law.”
I am not interested in any misguided, hippy solutions, using small populations or mind-controlled countries as examples of gun-free utopia. These countries still have gun crime and problems. But, remember, these samples of the world do not have 340 million people with 400 million fireams out there already, all over thousands and thousands of square miles. If you believed the detached-from-reality crap the media spits out? We should all be dead by now. Instead only the teenyist, tinyest amount of people are shot and/or killed each year, in comparison to 340 million people, and our interactions! There are literally billions of safe interactions between all kinds of people everyday, coast to coast EVERY DAY. American people…do get along quite well and quite safely, despite what is fired up in the airhead news.
I was put in a school for a short period. Forced. Ordered. In my agency many moons ago, we got a new detective sergeant, who had no teeth for being an investigator – zero – as he was just a patrol guy “Peter Principled” into filling a gap. He believed so, so strongly in School Resource Officers – that is assigning police to “live” at a school. But the police chief at the time didn’t have the same dream. Not enough manpower, the chief said. That did not stop Sergeant Zero though, as he quietly assigned a few detectives under his bailiwick to wear raid jackets and get out to the biggest high school in the city and…stand around… especially in the morning and afternoon rush. And just hang around the schools? The school admin was so happy and expected way more. But this is just NOT detective work.
So, I got stuck in this mess too. How? Part of our expected responsibility as detectives was to also develop and work dope cases “on the side.” By “dope” I mean any and all drugs. It is just something we oldtimers did. At the time I was working on a side case when I could, of LSD sales at this biggest high school. From time to time, I climbed on the roof with binocs to eye-follow a certain couple of skunks. I caught one little rat selling LSD. School admin was so happy, and then somehow at that very time, I was swept up in this sergeant’s SRO cause. “Oh can we have Hock out here too?” asked the happy admin. Well, crap. Some of us even found ourselves in a week-long SRO school that Sergeant Zero mandated and my agency “higher” didn’t even know about. (We were also under a strange, detached CID LT at the time too, and the SGT and LT didn’t even talk to each other, when passing each other in the hallway. Police agencies are usually like disfunctional families when you pull back the curtains.)
Standing around a high school is like absolutely the LAST F___ing thing I wanted to do, and keep in mind I was working a murder during this time period, as well as other cases. I couldn’t, shouldn’t (and wouldn’t) be standing around a damn school. I simply quit showing up out there when this same Sergeant Zero assigned me a second murder. A woman found strangled by a wire hanger in her apartment. What in hell was he thinking? I had a clone, or what? I simply ignored the whole school thing and worked my cases. I waited for his complaint, but none came, because that, and my logical and sarcastic response, would reveal and contest the Sergeant Zero, little SRO “plot.”
Since then, the SRO programs became official PATROL programs and almost mandatory in most places in the USA. Many SRO cops see it as a day-job, retirement with weekends off and not at all like guarding a forward-operating-base in Afghanistan, anticipating machine gun fire every several hours. That’s what citizens want and expect right? A super cop who can suddenly machine gun fight an ambush attack? Actually all these security jobs are very boring. Stagnant and boring. I have done all kinds of security jobs since the 1970s. It’s a real challenge to stay ready and alert when the real odds are that NOTHING will ever, EVER happen.
On this cops-waiting-outside thing, which some folks have really asked me to comment on and why I am writing this. First, it’s odd that it took several days before this info came out. Isn’t it? The first rush of news passed over in a big way. Everybody took their usual brainwashed positions, and then…
“Oh and by the way, “our cops didn’t go in”
…news slips out a few days later? What? A lot of people are now talking about these Broward County cops, or in particular, this one SRO cop Scott Peterson waiting and, or “cowering” outside. The media likes that word, cowering.
There is an aggravating history of “police waiting outside.” I was around during the In the early days of the proliferation of SWAT teams – and the days were confusing and there was a period where many police managements had a “wait for SWAT” attitude and orders. This culminated with the Columbine school shooting. I nearly kicked my TV screen in when I saw the live footage of officer’s waiting outside the Columbine school for SWAT as people were shot and even bled to death inside. Once you have SWAT, then you have to use SWAT or maybe get sued for using them or maybe even get sued for not using them. (This is a subject of a whole other essay.)
But the general, police-admin consensus at the time was “Have Swat? Patrol Waits.” Patrol backs off and waits. “Secure the scene!” Yes, wait. Wait while all the team pagers go off, team members drive to the station. Team members dress up and dress up and dress up. They arrive in their team van or vans. They prepare a team tactical entry. We know now that is way, way too long, way too late. I …could…tell…you…stories about this.
After that Columbine carnage a lot of police admins and SWAT guys made public statements supporting the “SWAT-Wait” policies that they themselves had invented and dictated. But simple common sense could tell they were wrong and the whole “wait” idea was wrong, wrong, wrong.
Thus, after Columbine, the “Active Shooter” courses slowly began – with their own growing pains – which sort of returned the police patrol officer back to pre-SWAT day expectations. All kinds of things were then invented for the common street cop to enter schools, like in groups of…4 (what? Waiting for 3 others to arrive now? And in so close a grouping that one machine gun burst of 3 rounds, or a shotgun blast could take out two or more of the clustered cops. Entry must be made instead a military manner of cover and move, not parade.)
But lets look at the SRO situation at that very school…
“A Broward County SRO must carry a political hat and be able to intercept behavior, modify his/her action based on a specific policy need, falsify documents, hide evidence, manipulate records and engage inside the system with an understanding of the unwritten goals. Broward County school law enforcement are given political instructions, and carrying out political objectives. They are not given law-enforcement instructions. The school officers are the primary foot soldiers carrying out county political policy. Physical security of school students is not their role, they don’t have time for that. The Broward County SRO is in place to protect the school system “policy” and ensure students are not arrested for criminal conduct.”
In my ancient days of policing, police were supposed to deliver babies on up to killing people, and everything in between. We are now expected again to enter school shootings and not wait. And, you have to enter like a solo soldier. How many cops have this soldier DNA in them? Some. And speaking of DNA? What about teachers? Can some teachers act like soldiers too? Well…some.
As an aside, a whole lot of people are blabbing on the web and Facebook about what they would have done. You know, unless you’ve been in gun fight and most of you haven’t, you don’t know what the hell you would have done, and what you would do may vary from week to week based on a whole bunch of reasons and circumstances. So how’s about a little less of that blow-heart bull from you inexperinced, shadow-box heroes.