The following is a continuation of our ongoing focus and discussion on gun violence at schools. This post is written by a long time LYSer.
I have read a lot of ideas over the past few weeks in the wake of more school shootings. I have found most of these ideas lacking. But, considering the people offering those ideas have no real expertise in security, that is forgivable. Let me start by saying I am not the preeminent expert in security, but I am trained. I served in the military on the most secure facilities in the world; facilities dedicated to the storage and maintenance of thermonuclear weapons. I am a licensed law enforcement officer. And I am a public school superintendent.
My ideas are solid. But I am completely aware that they will be soundly rejected on both sides of the political aisle. The left will point out I don’t address gun control or gun control laws. That is correct. There is a reason for this: gun control laws are largely ineffective. Laws are fine, but they require enforcement, which requires people, which means there will always be flaws and imperfections. Some call those loopholes. I call it life.
The right will not like my ideas because they involve money. A lot of it. So far all I have heard from the Texas Legislature is that there are federal grants and some matching state funds available to make our campuses more secure. This strikes me as strange because I don’t see protecting Texas schools as a federal responsibility. It seems to me that the responsibility of protecting Texas public schools, including paying the bill, falls directly on the shoulders of Texas elected officials.
I told you my ideas would be rejected.
First, let’s discuss the differences between Security and Access Control. They are not the same thing. Access control does just that; it controls access to some place, or some person, or some item you want to protect. Access control can include metal detectors, concrete barriers, sally ports, reinforced doors, id cards, etc. You get the idea.
Security is different. Security involves identifying and neutralizing threats before they reach the access control point. This involves people, and the potential use of force. I then secure the access point. Should a threat make it to the access point, this is my final good opportunity to eliminate the threat. This, again, involves people and the potential use of force. The last thing we have to consider is what to do should the access point get breached. There has to be security to deal with that threat, which once again, involves people and the potential use of force.
So yes, “hardening” schools is a part of the solution as it creates better access points and control of those points. But that is not security. A ticket to a football game is access control. A ticket is not security. Beyond access control, schools need security.
Security may involve arming teachers or other personnel. I am no huge fan of this idea on a large scale. There are exceptions. School personnel with certain military or law enforcement backgrounds can very likely be quickly trained and put to use to good effect. Beyond those few people (editor’s note: most likely less than 1% of public educators), I need trained, experienced people performing security. Think law enforcement.
My idea is simple. The state funds $100.00 per student, per year, (with new money, not from current school funding) for law enforcement personnel and other security concerns. Schools can be held accountable for correct use of these funds by program intent codes which would regulate the spending of the funds. With about 5 million students in Texas public schools, that comes to $500,000,000.00, annually. This is an arbitrary figure, I admit. But it would give a district of 10,000 students the ability to hire between 10 and 20 law enforcement officers, depending on location. Perhaps some of that money could be used for increased counselors dedicated to psychological screening.
I call this a good starting point for a real, effective conversation.
Think. Work. Achieve.
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