To school district superintendents, school boards, and school administrators who are considering recent requests to scrutinize and ultimately eliminate school resource officers, please remember: On August 24, 2006, Christopher Williams entered Essex Elementary School, began shooting and killed a teacher and injured another as he searched for his girlfriend, another teacher. In 2018, Jack Sawyer was arrested and accused of plotting a mass shooting at his former high school in Fair Haven. Then there are the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT, Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, and the Columbine High School massacre. The list goes on…with many others.
In a letter by “Neighbors for a Safer Saint Albans,” it is suggested to transfer funding away from school resource officers to the hiring of social workers and school counselors. I’m sure they are competent professionals in their fields but, how will they improve the handling of a shooting crisis over that of a trained law enforcement officer? Most shooters target their victims at random and don’t care about their race or gender. A school without a resource officer becomes a vulnerable target for would be shooters. In December 2019, an Oshkosh, WI Police Dept. resource officer shot a 16 - year old student after the boy stabbed him in the officer’s office. A day earlier, a resource officer at Waukesha (WI) High School helped clear students out of a classroom after a 17 - year old student pointed a gun at the head of another student. It turned out to be a pellet gun and luckily, there were no life-threatening injuries in either incident. The trained resource officers in these instances likely prevented additional injuries and fatalities.
The presence of a resource officer may reduce the risk of school violence and shootings. In light of the long record of such violence and shootings, the justification of their presence is overwhelming. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible. Those who advocate for their removal either don’t have children in school or apparently don’t feel their children are at risk. Many do and welcome the additional layer of security at area schools.
Jeffrey and Katrina Sharp