By Bill Moore

I delayed writing this column in the hope that the hype around the tragic shooting of High School Students would abate and a rational discussion could proceed.  In a spirit of transparency I readily share that I am a retired High School Principal.  I have had high schools in an urban area in New York and a rural area in North Carolina.  In addition, I am also a retired Lieutenant Colonel serving some 28 years in the US Army Reserve and on Active Duty.  I share all of this with you in order to provide a better understanding of my ability to develop a plan to successfully protect our Schools.

Let me start by saying that there is no full proof method to guarantee total protection.  The more freedom we grant our students, the greater the potential for an attack.  In addition, please understand that there is no one plan that fits every school.  In fact any plan needs to be modified to fit each school’s population, grade levels and physical plant.

To start, each school needs to have closed cameras that are covering the halls, cafeteria, auditorium, office and entry ways.  There needs to be a secure location where a deputy is consistently monitoring the events going on in the school.  That room should have a telephone and obviously the law enforcement officers need to have radios that can contact their fellow officers for help and keep in touch with the school administration. I suggest that each school have at a minimum two trained deputies or their equivalent, and they be properly armed.  Watching  the monitor needs to be rotated frequently as people can zone out if they sit there for hours just staring at a monitor.

I do not believe that each Deputy/ Police Officer needs to be armed with a rifle; however, there should be one secured in the monitoring area, available to be used if necessary.  Rifles have limited use in close quarters and a well trained officer can inflict a great deal of damage with his side arm. Training is a key here.  Another point, in the event of an absence, a trained professional must be available as a substitute. The same substitute should be used as often as possible in order to become familiar with the  layout of the school and familiar to the students.  Having two  or more deputies eliminates the wait time as most Police have a policy for a single officer to wait for backup.  Secondly, it allows multiple officers the chance to be familiar with the school and the physical plant.

In addition, the staff must be offered a chance to become concealed arms carriers.  The size of the armed staff would be dependent on the size of the school and the physical plant. T he more buildings, the more armed staff necessary.  I suggest that those armed staff volunteers be highly trained in both fire arms use.  They should also be put through a type of simulation training that would help them make those instantaneous decisions.  Retraining and re-qualifying should be quarterly.  How they are reimbursed for their “extra duty” is up to the individual  districts.  Members of the staff should know about the program, but exactly who is authorized to carry should not be readily known.  If the staff and student body are aware  of the fact that their deputies are supported by an unknown backup force, it will go a long way toward cutting back on shooting incidents.

Another interesting point that I do not support is the standard operating policy that involves who should go through the drills.  It is fairly common practice to pick a day and go through a simulated incident with students and staff.  The fact is that every shooter has either been a current student or a recent one.  Why would you help them out by telling them what your response will be if attacked?  Train the Staff more than once a year, and at a minimum quarterly.  Use a day(s) where there is a teacher workshop or training day where no students are in the building.  Signals and codes need to be developed to keep the staff apprised of a developing situation and how to disengage from the Lock Down that was put in place to protect the staff and students.  Coordinate the training with the Local Police so that they can participate.

Signs must be displayed that the building has armed staff protecting the student population.  Every school attacked was  a ” Gun Free Zone”.  The attackers knew that they had no initial opposition to thwart their attacks nor threaten their lives.

Others will say that the “kids” will be adversely affected by armed guards on patrol during the day. Yet we take the students to museums or public events where there are visible armed guards and they quickly adjust.  Our kids can even see armed guards at the banks and are not upset by it.  In fact many, if not all amusement parks have armed guards at critical points. Train stations and other forms of transportation hubs have armed guards;  as do Sporting events and concerts.  Kids participate in all of those mentioned.  Have you taken your children to a Federal or state building?  Our kids have been exposed to this for years and will quickly adjust to seeing them in school.

Others will say just wait for the police to respond.  If you live in an urban area, the police response can be up to 10 minutes depending on traffic.  If you live in a rural area where the police force is smaller and has to cover a large area, the response time can be 20 minutes or more.  Do you wish to allow a shooter or shooters all that time to pick victims and engage them?

As far as cost, It will be expensive, but what is the value of a single student’s life?  Another way to lessen the cost might be to hire Veterans to act as secondary force to work in the schools with the Police and lessen the cost of additional Police. These Vets needs to go through a similar education as if they were applying to be police cadets and participate in the same drills given to the volunteer teachers.

Still others will say gun restrictions will stem the tide of school shootings.  If a person is going to randomly start killing people, do you really believe a gun ban or restricting access will stop them from getting the necessary weapons?  They will get their weapons illegally as most criminals do and avoid any gun background checks or bans on specific weapons.

I know that our Children deserve the same protection that we give our money in banks, and celebrities and politicians.  If you want a plan that will, at a minimum, reduce casualties in a school shooting, hopefully act as a deterrent and keep our kids safer, please consider what I have outlined above.

Let us do whatever will work to stop these senseless killings. I am ready how about you?