Despite my headline, I do believe that all members of the Saratoga Springs Board of Education have student safety as their primary concern. HOW to keep them safe is the BIG issue. I personally think the decision was asinine and reckless and I will attempt to defend my views in this editorial.
As always, I like to begin with a quick recap, so everyone is on the same page.
• Saratoga Springs Schools have had armed monitors for the past 30 years.
• All of the monitors are former law enforcement.
• There has never been an issue involving the armed monitors.
• The school board realized that they were out of compliance with state law, because they had never specifically allowed armed personnel.
• Earlier in the month the BOE voted 5-4 to not authorize the district monitors to carry firearms during their job duties.
• Tuesday, October 23, hundreds of parents, officers and community members attended the BOE meeting to express their views on this topic. A petition in favor of rearming the monitors, with more than 1,000 signatures, was presented to the board.
We can tell by the vote (5-4) that it was a contested topic, one which I assume they took very seriously. I imagine both sides had their facts and their feelings, but unfortunately it appears feelings took precedence over facts in this case. I say this because I haven’t found any facts that indicate disarming grounds monitors would result in an increase in student safety.
Before we go further, let’s agree that the primary reason for having armed monitors is to thwart, or reduce, the possible carnage caused by an active shooter.
So why would someone choose to have unarmed monitors in this type of event? One reason which I have heard a few times relates to the accuracy of shooters, and the fact that bullets would be flying all over the place. My response is so simple it borders on elementary. I would prefer bullets were flying in the direction of the shooter as opposed to them only flying towards the students. Statistics show that active shooters often take their own life when confronted by armed responders. A simple Google search will provide real life examples of when armed citizens have stopped mass shootings or crimes in progress. Some studies indicate that firearms are used over 2 million times a year for personal protection, and that the presence of a firearm, without a shot being fired, prevents crime in many instances.
And school districts are taking notice. A recent study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics showed that armed security officers in American schools are becoming more prevalent. Just this month the Brevard County, Fla. School district decided to have armed security guards in all their schools. So as our nation takes steps to better protect our children, Saratoga Springs has taken a step backwards. Don’t take my word for it, listen to a local expert. According to Sean Briscoe, a current SSPD officer who works security for the district, this decision has made schools less safe. “We have gone backwards.” stated Briscoe.
Another reason given for the disarming of monitors is that their children would feel very uncomfortable around armed monitors.
1. They have been armed for the past 30 years.
2. There has never been an incident.
3. Law enforcement are the good guys. Teach your children to be worried about the bad guys.
According to John F. Kennedy “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” If the country protects our other valuable resource with weapons and guards, don’t our children deserve the same? We must take the most comprehensive measures possible to keep them safe.
It is well known that these killers, as well as most common criminals, choose soft targets (gun free zones.) Don’t make our school a soft target!
So, Board of Education, I call on you to put it back on your agenda and vote again. The community has spoken; Statistics dictate it; Our children deserve it; And your role requires it.
The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Stay Safe & God Bless!