Following Parkland, I spent a lot of time beating up the school resource officer who was on duty at the time of the shooting. I don’t regret anything I said and I’d say it all again.
But, let’s also be honest for a second. School resource officers aren’t the universal solution. They don’t make the problem go away. After all, we have school resource officers and we still have school shootings, right?
I mean, wasn’t there a school resource officer shot at Uvalde?
Well, no. There wasn’t. While we wrote about it, it was based on information being handed out by Uvalde officials. It seems that it never actually happened. The officer wasn’t actually there at the time of the shooting, and that’s kind of the problem.
According to the National Association of School Resource Officers, there are between 14,000 and 20,000 school resource officers in the United States. Meanwhile, there are almost 131,000 K-12 schools in the country.
Of course, school resource officers are controversial in some circles. Some see the presence of armed officers in schools as problematic, sometimes turning simple school discipline matters into criminal proceedings. A fist fight that might have resulted in in-school suspension could now result in criminal charges for both involved in the altercation, as an example.
It’s a fair concern, especially for older students who could get saddled with a permanent criminal record because of it.
Yet when we talk about trying to address school shootings, we need to do something, and disarming law-abiding citizens isn’t the right way to go. Putting armed guards in schools might. It hasn’t, but because there just aren’t enough of them to make any appreciable difference.
To put this disparity into perspective, the Capitol Police boast 2,300 officers that defend a handful of buildings and the lives of the 535 members of Congress, their staff, and visitors.
Now, I’m not saying the Capitol Police are too large or anything of the sort. The Capitol is a prime target for any manner of extremist and they need the manpower.
But my question is why aren’t we providing a similar level of protection for the more than 49 million school students in the United States?
This delves into the reason that school resource officers can’t stop school shootings.
You see, if they happen to be at the right school at the right time, they can act to stop such horrible events from happening. We saw such a potential recently in Alabama, as an example.
The problem is that there simply aren’t enough of them. There needs to be, at a minimum, one per every school in the nation. Further, there shouldn’t be any “dispatching” going on. as was apparently the case at Uvalde. That needs to be their duty station and where they essentially reside throughout the school year.
Preferably, there would be more than one.
However, school resource officers aren’t enough on their own. They’re a primary target and I think they all know it. They need support.
Where do you provide that support? Armed staff who can also respond to a potential shooting. These shouldn’t be publicly known so they aren’t the target.
Couple that with sound strategies for hardening our schools and we’ll see a reduction in these kinds of school shootings. These monsters may want to die, but they don’t want to go without taking a lot of people with them. If they can’t do that, they’ll look for another target.
While all mass shootings are tragic, it’s worse when the victims are children.
What’s worse than that is that it doesn’t have to happen. We just need to own up to the reality about the methods currently employed to protect those children and how woefully insufficient they are right now.