We told you last week about the absurd situation in Winter Haven, Florida, where an unannounced “active shooter” drill in Jewett Middle Academy terrified students and teachers alike.
Adding to the horror was the fact that at least one officer participating in the drill was using his service weapon, filled with live rounds in the magazine and in the chamber as he “cleared” rooms with another officer armed with an unloaded but real AR-15.
Considering the default level of training for most police officers, we were irate.
We’ve been reading almost weekly about officers shooting themselves and others during training at firing ranges, and two officers have been killed in the last two months while training (one in Texas, and one in Pennsylvania) in much more controlled situations. Despite this harsh reality, this police chief is sending armed men into classrooms containing dozens of students and teachers who have no idea what is going on, and where a true “safe direction” (such as a range backstop) simply doesn’t exist.
This is a recipe for disaster.
If I were a Winter Haven parent, I’d seriously be questioning the judgement of both the school administrators that allowed officers to terrify students and staff to “educate them,” and that of the Winter Haven Police, who unnecessarily put the lives of students at risk.
School Superintendent Kathryn Leroy apparently shares my disgust for the absurd and dangerous situation, and is taking step to ensure it will never happen again.
Principal Jacquelyn Moore has been suspended and a school resource officer has been reassigned to road patrol. It sparked an internal investigation and changes to district policy.
Superintendent Kathryn Leroy is apologizing to students and parents for the scare at the school and claiming the principal used bad judgement, when allowing officers to use guns during the drill. Leroy promises it will never happen again.
Parents say it better not. “I have never requested an active shooter drill be performed with students present and officers having weapons in their hands,” says Leroy.
Sadly, it appears that Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird has learned nothing from this incident. He was last heard defending the drill, including the fact that his now -reassigned school resource officer had a real weapon drawn and a live cartridge in the chamber as he moved from room to room.
If I were a resident of Winter Haven I’d be asking the town to reexamine Chief Bird’s credentials. Any police officer that thinks sending armed men into a building filled with unsuspecting children and adults for training purposes lacks discernment.
Winter Haven could use a chief that won’t so carelessly put his community’s most precious assets—its children—at risk.