School safety doesn’t necessarily translate into schools being safe….or as safe as they can be.
How is that an enigma, you ask?
Schools are supposed to be safe learning environments, but engaging in school safety activities can be like participating in orderly confusion.
Seems a bit confusing – at least it does to me.
Listen to the episode of “This American Life” titled, Ready As You’ll Never Be, and you’ll see what I mean. The weekly public radio program and podcast interviews two Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) teachers who appear to believe they were as ready as possible for an active shooter in their school.
But were they, really?
These teachers based their perceptions of readiness on training they’d received prior to the massacre at MSD. They also kind of gave the impression there’s nothing more that could have been done to prepare leading up to the massacre, hence the title of the interview.
The Sun Sentinel, a Florida media outlet, contradicted that perception by characterizing educator and police response to the MSD massacre as Unprepared and Overwhelmed.
Also from the Sun Sentinel:
Those two headlines pretty much say it all in my opinion.
And one more from the same publication:
According to this article, Sheriff Israel’s stated agency policy is that deputies “may” rather than “shall” engage an active shooter. He indicated he inserted that language into agency policy himself.
Israel also blamed “bad communications” for problems that day.
As an emergency management specialist (retired), I truly don’t know if I should laugh hysterically, sob uncontrollably, or just bang my head against the wall…..repeatedly!
Following the Columbine massacre, then Colorado Governor Bill Owens signed an executive order creating the Columbine Review Commission to conduct an independent review of that massacre.
The final Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission Initial Report was published January 2, 2019.
The MSD Report cited Columbine as one of several school shooting benchmarks for identifying and analyzing what went wrong at MSD.
A comparison using school colors of the two schools to illustrate a few more notable (in my opinion) recommendations from each report:
MSD Report, Chapter 5, Page 203:
All law enforcement agencies must have a proactive active shooter response policy, which includes immediately responding to and stopping the threat.
Columbine Report Executive Summary, Page x:
Law enforcement policy and training should emphasize that the highest priority of law enforcement officers, after arriving at the scene of a crisis, is to stop any ongoing assault.
MSD Report, Chapter 7, Page 230:
Law enforcement agencies should be required to have communications interoperability with all other law enforcement agencies in their county.
Columbine Report Executive Summary, Page xi:
Law enforcement agencies should plan their communications systems to facilitate crisis communications with other agencies with whom they might reasonably be expected to interface in emergencies.
MSD Report, Chapter 15, Page 320:
The law requires the school district to develop emergency plans with public safety agencies and include active shooter and hostage situations.
Columbine Report Executive Summary, Page xii:
Every school in Colorado should develop an emergency crisis plan tailored to meet the particular safety concerns at that school.
The “should” recommendations made by the Columbine Review Commission changed to “shall” requirements in Colorado with the passage of two laws; Senate Bill 08-181 requiring emergency management programs in schools, and Senate Bill 11-173 requiring interoperable communications in schools.
The State of Florida created an Office of Safe Schools in response to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to passage of SB 7026, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.
Does anyone besides me see what’s going on here? Confused yet?
Were Florida officials tasked with making schools safe in their state even aware of lessons learned from Columbine prior to the massacre at MSD?
If they were and are just now trying to address them, might that not be a bit of a problem?
If being reactively proactive after the fact is the best we can do, then school safety is, in fact, an enigma….of extraordinary proportions.
My two cents.
- My Two Cents: School Safety….’Quick Fix’ Style - September 26, 2019
- My Two Cents: School Safety – DAMMIT! It’s Not Rocket Science….. - January 28, 2019
- My Two Cents: Kovington Kids Kalamity Double Standard…. - January 26, 2019
- My Two Cents: Weighing in on the ‘Covington Kids Calamity’ - January 22, 2019
- My Two Cents: The Illogical Logic of the NRA - January 11, 2019
- My Two Cents: School Safety Is An Enigma - January 3, 2019
- My Two Cents: ‘To Protect and To Serve’ vs the ‘Public-Duty Doctrine’ - December 22, 2018
- My Two Cents: Quiet Rooms - December 15, 2018
- My Two Cents: Stay in Your Lane Road Rage NRA Style - November 26, 2018
- My Two Cents: School Safety Hoplophile Style - November 17, 2018