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For school safety, 'do something' that works

Posted: January 20, 2013 - 12:07am
File photo by Jim Blaylock  School safety officer Duke Smalley patrols Lakeside High School. A proposal would arm principals in addition to safety officers.  File photo by Jim Blaylock 
School safety officer Duke Smalley patrols Lakeside High School. A proposal would arm principals in addition to safety officers.
File photo by Jim Blaylock School safety officer Duke Smalley patrols Lakeside High School. A proposal would arm principals in addition to safety officers.
File photo by Jim Blaylock School safety officer Duke Smalley patrols Lakeside High School. A proposal would arm principals in addition to safety officers.

Politicians generally believe they must be seen as “doing something” in reaction to any given crisis, no matter whether that “something” is likely to be effective or not.

The Obama administration this past week decided to “do something” about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary by, among other things, calling for sweeping gun bans and restrictions. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal swung the pendulum in the other direction, promising to sign legislation to strap sidearms on school personnel.

Are there any cooler heads in elected office capable of reining in this runaway nonsense?

There is some hope. U.S. Rep. John Barrow, a member of the president’s own party, said after Obama’s announcements Wednesday, “I strongly disagree with proposals that would deny law-abiding citizens their Second Amendment rights, and I’m disappointed he did not propose increased security measures for our schools.”

Deal did call for more security measures, but local educators rightly characterize the proposal to arm principals as a “knee-jerk” response.

“Just a few years ago they took the paddle out of our hands, and now they’re gonna give us a gun?” quipped Columbia County School Superintendent Charles Nagle.

“Every citizen needs to think back to their days in school, and I’m sure they can close their eyes and remember an angry administrator that they would not want a gun in their hands,” he added.

Richmond County just fired a teacher’s aide for slapping a 5-year-old. Think that couldn’t happen with a gun?

Greenbrier High School Principal Chris Segraves got it exactly right when he pointed out that educators aren’t law enforcement personnel, and aren’t hired or trained for their security expertise. The governor’s proposal would require that training, creating yet another non-educational role for educators to take on.

A visible sign of how the line between educators and law enforcement should be drawn is in the creation years ago of the school system’s public safety office. Trained, certified and armed, those officers are the right choice for helping to keep campuses safe.

Augmenting them are the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. Capt. Steve Morris says that after Sandy Hook, deputies quietly stepped up patrols at schools, particularly elementary and middle schools that don’t have full-time safety officers.

In addition, those deputies aren’t just riding through parking lots; they’re going inside and walking through schools. That visible sign of support for school safety is reassuring.

None of those measures threaten infringement of the gun rights of citizens, as some of Obama’s would, nor create unnecessary safety risks, as Deal’s could. If we must “do something,” shouldn’t we do something that actually works?

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Comments (3)

Riverman1

BOE Should Rule

Superintendent Charles Nagle, Principal Chris Segraves and the editorial writer have a constitutional right to express their misgivings with principals carry weapons in schools, but to base it on irrational fears of citizens exercising their constitutional rights, and with the approval of the state government, carrying their weapons in schools, I find erroneous and demeaning to those who back such measures.

The most ridiculous argument that school somehow makes administrators one step away from being crazed killers deserves to be ridiculed and scorned. Some of us brought up the irrationality of the statements by Nagle and others previously, but were told he didn’t actually mean that. It was said he was only referring to high pressure situations where he feels they wouldn’t know what to do. But now, we’ve all had time to think over his comments and it is once again voiced in this editorial exactly what he means.

The facts are citizens with permits to carry guns have demonstrated a far better safety record concerning injuring innocent bystanders than the police have when intervening in crimes. Law abiding ordinary citizens carrying guns, and I would hope even more so with school principals, don’t pull out weapons when around unruly kids.

Because a teacher or parent has once slapped a child in Richmond County it doesn't follow a principal (or teacher) is likely to murder a child. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT’S IMPLIED AND IT’S DISGUSTING. I WANT THE ELECTED BOE TO RULE ON THIS MATTER.

Little Lamb

Try something that works

I would like to see schools try "hardening" their entrances. Instead of visitors, parents, current vendors, prospective vendors, etc. just being able to saunter in an open door and then move into the general population without being forced to encounter someone who obtains I.D., purpose of visit, and arranges an escort.

Riverman1

Israeli Example

While some administrators in Columbia County are making fun of the whole concept, Israel probably faces the biggest constant threat to their school children in the world and it's interesting how they handle this real situation. THREE school teachers or administrators in EVERY school are armed. They have not had one attack on their school kids even though they live where hatred and insanity rub shoulders with them.

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