February 2018, President’s Message
As we just celebrated Martin Luther King Day with the emphasis on nonviolence, peace and equality for all, I ask all of you to not forget about our youth who have been injured or murdered due to violence. Often, the violence that takes our youth lives takes place in our communities that we live in or provide services to. Over the past decades, I have seen this violence, within our communities, infiltrate into our schools. Despite, these tragic events that take place, our schools continue to be safe places for learning to take place and are often the only structures that are safe havens for our children. This is not by accident, but it is by design of school safety programs. Our school leaders in the late 1950’s decided to invest into school resource officers/school safety officers with the goal of making schools safe. These programs have evolved and best practices have also developed based our study and understanding of these critical incidents. In order to continue keeping our schools safe, we must always remember prevention, intervention, and enforcement as a last resort. When dealing with critical incidents, eighty-five(85) percent is what is done before an incident even occurs. This includes prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and protection efforts.
With 25 years of law enforcement experience, I believe the response phase, what occurs during a critical incident, accounts for 10 (ten) percent of the actions.
Moreover, we must continue to support and fund prevention programs. This includes all aspects of school safety human capital and technology, so when we are faced with a tragic incident, we are ready to protect and preserve life. Also, let’s not forget that once we have command, control, and containment of these situations, we must turn to recovery phase, what occurs afterwards, and this accounts for 5 (five) percent of the continual efforts. We must learn from these incidents and provide care and assistance to our students, parents, and employees. This picture that I have painted for you should not be linear but in a continual spiral of learning and actions to be taken before, during, and after critical incidents.
This summer, we will embark on our 49th Annual Conference in Long Island New York. I urge our membership and those who want to learn more about the best practices in school safety to attend our school safety training conference. You will be enlightened by our board members, who are a subject matter experts and practitioners in the industry of school safety and security, along with keynote speakers, like former Bibb County School Police Chief Michael Dorn. Please visit us at http://www.nassleo.org/conference49.php for more information on this year’s theme of “Safety and Security Around The Clock.”
As always, Stay Safe Out There
Chief Ian A. Moffett, President
NASSLEO Article For February 2018
By Sergeant James Ream, Secretary
The Importance of School Resource Officers (SRO’s)
On January 23rd, 2018 a 15-year-old student opens fire on classmates at a Kentucky High School; killing a young girl and a young boy, wounding 17 others. Tragic and possibly preventable!? My message is in no way meant to be critical of the police, community or school staff in Kentucky. I only mention this incident because it is so current and to lead into a bigger conversation of school and student safety. I pray for the all of the victims and their families of the Kentucky shooting.
We will all watch the media coverage for a few days; maybe. We will all listen to politicians and others talk about how resilient we are as a nation, how resilient the people of Kentucky are and how the community will recover in time. We have heard these same words of “reassurance” over and over in the shadows of so many of these active shooter incidents. That message of “resilience and recovery” may be true for most of us who are watching from afar, but not for the victims or for their families who will never recover. The children whose lives were taken cannot recover and the wounded will likely never recover fully from their physical injuries. Everyone will just try to find a way to forget and move on with life. Life in what can be a wonderful, but also very dangerous world!
I am truly sympathetic to the impossible task of finding words to speak to families, victims and the community following an incident such as these. However, is there something missing from these messages? Is there something missing from our responses as a nation?
In what should be equally shocking to all of us; this is being reported as the “first” school shooting of 2018! The “FIRST” school shooting of 2018! I thought that worth repeating. Without reading too much in this, we can all take away one thing. There will be more school shootings, more students and school staff members taken from us in the prime of their lives. So let there be no doubt and no debate about that. Armed with this knowledge, what will we do about it? What will we do to prevent as many of these incidents as possible and stop innocent lives from being lost? I wish I knew, but I know we should stop wasting time and money debating the necessity of SRO’s and security on school campuses and continue discussing how to utilize SRO’s and security more effectively on and around school campuses.
I want to take a step away from active shooter now. Clearly and for good reason active shooter is be one of the biggest media and attention getters when it comes to school safety. However there are a myriad of other very concerning issues negatively affecting our schools, students, staff, parents and every ones quality of life. Some of these other issues include child abuse / neglect, rising drug use / addiction by juveniles, gang activity that includes recruiting, gun violence, numerous other crimes such as robbery, vandalism, physical attacks and basic intimidation of schools and entire communities, sexual predators, unsafe traffic conditions that kill and injure many thousands of our students, staff and parents every year.
What about issues such as Bullying, Cyber Bullying, Criminal Threats and Cyber Threats, Truancy, Suicide, etc.? These are all daily concerns and real dangers that our schools and students face each and every day throughout our nation; every state, every major city and as we continue to see, even in the quietest and rural communities. SRO’s throughout our nation are already on the front lines every day trying to reduce or eliminate these real life threats so students can not only be safe, but so that they may succeed in school and in society.
There is a lot more that needs to be done. SRO’s are vital and are being effective, but even an SRO will tell you that more needs to be done. If utilized appropriately, an SRO is an essential part of a team on the campus and in the community. An SRO is a resource to students, school staff and parents. SRO programs are the perfect example of Community Based Policing and one of the best pathways to improving Police and Community Relations.
SRO Programs need to be supported so that SRO’s can support the students and staff. What does an SRO do and what is an SRO’s function? Aside from working to mitigate issues mentioned previously in this article and responding to crimes and incidents, an SRO spends the majority of his or her time on prevention. While making arrests is an important part of an SRO’s duties, it represents only a small fraction of how his or her time is spent.
So let’s stop debating over the SRO Program and start building on our programs to be more effectively staffed and funded. Lets make SRO Programs a priority in our communities and take full advantage of all of the versatility, pro-activity and usefulness of an SRO. We have a duty to work harder to make our schools as safe as we do our airports, our banks and our city / county / government buildings. Let’s protect our most vulnerable and most precious, our students, parents and school staff.
Please stay safe, Sergeant James Ream