I write with a heavy heart as yet another school shooting (this time again in the great state of Texas) plagues our American landscape. I apologize up front for my tone as I write however; enough of the political dialect, two sided responses and promises to enact “changes” to better protect our children. My tone is purposely driven, I make no apologies and want everyone this reaches to know that WE, as adults continue on epic proportion to FAIL our children.
Schools are supposed to be a place to educate, to prepare children for adulthood, to develop social skills; a place parents once knew their sons and daughters were safe and in the hands of responsible adults. Well, how do you feel these days? Scared as hell (if you have 1/2 a brian); wondering if, or when you may receive a text, a call, or hear a radio station reporting on a school shooting in your community. And for those of you that call of El Paso, TX home (my community) and continue think this sort of incident “Could Never Happen Here, ” Wake Up!!! No community is exempt from such violence, not a one, not even my friendly hometown of El Paso, TX. Just look at the communities listed below. Communities that are nice places, small towns, great places to raise a family, friendly, etc…
1999 Columbine HS, 13 dead and 23 wounded.
2007 VA Tech University, 33 dead and 25 wounded.
2012 Sandy Hook Elementary, 28 dead and 2 wounded.
HS, 17 dead and 14 wounded.
And now the shooting at Santa Fe HS…
And there has been many more throughout the years.
Of course we know immediately following each of these horrific events, the same stale politically driven responses and promises are made. From the Political Left: More GUN CONTROL Laws / From the Right: More addressing of the MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE. Yet neither side of our messed up political spectrum has done a damn thing to make our schools safer. Sure elected officials gather at memorial’s for the victims, make appearances on TV and radio shows to spew their “expertise” on security, and make their promises to announce some BS legislation that addresses the issue; but has their approach worked? I believe the answer is obvious. Just ask the families of Santa Fe HS.
If we continue to leave it up to politicians at the Federal, State and Local level, NOTHING WILL BE DONE. The incompetence in both of our law making party’s, combined with the bureaucracy involved in developing and implementing a course of action is a process of debate, hearings, votes, edits, agreements (that means compromise, and we know that isn’t going to happen), funding, implementations, etc… A process that involves a lot of time. We do not have time. We must do something Now.
So here it is.
Following the Parkland Shooting, me any my team from Covenant Special Projects along with the El Paso Independent School District Chief of Police hosted a free School Active Shooter Awareness Seminar at a local event venue. We advertised the seminar via social medias, radio and press releases with local media outlets.
Our announcements of the informational seminar were initiated two weeks prior to the event.
In a community of over 800K people, hundreds of schools, multiple ISD’s, various private school groups, the total in attendance for the seminar was around 100. Of that 100, not a single school administrator, principle, superintendent were present. Those in attendance were provide lessons learned from school shootings, methods to address active shooter protocols to their children, schools and family, Best defense practices, and EPISD emergency plan overview (provided by EPISD Chief of Police).
We even briefed a plan to address the issues political leaders and so-called experts seem to negate. Sure, everyone talks about Planing for, Preparedness for, and Response for school active shootings; but we outlined our plan to PREVENT such events in the first place.
So while others determine how to change gun laws, implement mental health screening & reporting protocols, launch anti-bullying campaigns, etc, etc., we offer a method to deter and possibly prevent school shooting incidents.
Not unlike any critical facility, schools must be protected by competent On-site protection services. Police officers and/or elite private protection agents.
School Resource Officers (SRO’s), are police officers under a department (city, county, ISD) that provide on-site campus security and protection services. Here in El Paso, TX, we have such in various ISD’s, the Sheriff’s Office and Police Department. These officer’s serve as an integral part of the security posture at their assigned school. They serve to identify perceived threats, stand guard of the campus, its student body and faculty, and if necessary respond to a wide array of situations to include Active Shooter. In a perfect world, such dedicated officers would be posted at every school throughout the United States. But let’s outline some reality to such a commitment.
Here in El Paso, TX (and most cities throughout the US) there is not enough officers. Budget constraints of law enforcement.
Most schools would require multiple officers to adequately cover the campus.
Number of officers required at each school may be based on the TX school Marshal program ratios of one (1) officer per 400 students. Considering the size of the school, campus design (single / multi-building, etc.), student body size; you can see that here in El Paso the required number of commissioned peace officers would be in the hundreds.
Cost: When gov officials consider placing SRO’s at every school, they may not be looking at the budget constraints. City / County employees (i.e., police officers) are well paid, receive fringe-benefit packages and in may cases retirement compensation throughout their lifecycle. This may be an excellent course of action however, our local Sheriff and Police Chief’s already are stressed by stagnate budgets that hinder their ability simply operate routinely, let alone expand such a program. But what if there is a cost efficient, responsible and competent alternative.
This is a program, we briefed at the School Active Shooter Awareness seminar following the Parkland, FL shooting. Our program was well received by attendees (parents, law enforcement officers, the few teachers in attendance and students). Our solution serves not only in response to School Active Shootings, but to possibly deter the incident from happening in the first place. We know criminals take the past of least resistance. We also know most criminal acts are prefaced by active surveillance of the proposed target. So, lets make our schools safer by emplacing some resistance.
Everyone has heard the Term Hard Target (especially the years following 911). Our government building and officials are made hard targets by their active and passive security apparatuses (guards, cameras, access control, etc.). Why don’t we protect schools and our children in a similar manner? Well, we can and we can do it in a responsible manner, without presenting a fortress-like environment; discrete yet overt enough to warn anyone with illicit intent that… “This School is Protected”.
CSP’s answer: School Protection Agents (SPA’s)
School Protection Agents (SPA): We are not suggesting the rent-a-cop security guards that historically in my town of El Paso, TX are minimally compensated (average hourly pay for guards in the ELP area range from $7.90 - 10.00 per hour). We introduced a program that provides elite, highly trained and properly equipped Protection Agents at a fraction of the cost associated with commissioned peace officer’s.
School Protection Agents go through a stringent vetting and training course specifically designed to address school protection and active shooter deterrence and response techniques. All are trained in excess of the standard set by State Private Security Bureau requirements. All receive training in information collection and reporting (intent is to identify possible threat trends / indicators and report such to school admins and/or law enforcement prior to a catastrophic event). All receive training in and must maintain a firearms & skills training proficiency qualification at a level higher than local law enforcement to maintain in service. All agents are held to a high code of conduct, appearance and fitness. Oh, and by the way, all agent positions are staffed solely by US Military Veterans and Former Law Enforcement Officers. Men and Women that have dedicated their lives to serving and protecting that desire to continue to give back to their community.
Of course the program has much greater detail, multiple training modules, etc., but it is possible to rapidly implement the SPA program and begin taking a proactive approach to protecting our campuses. An additional benefit of the CPA program is its cost efficiency. This may be initiated at a fraction of the cost associate with city or county law enforcement. Other cities throughout the US are already employing privatized firms to enhance protection of their schools. Cities like El Paso or in your home town could do it as well. But doing nothing will continue to be the norm if we as a communities do not come together and make it happen. Now is the time to act; before one more child, teacher or police officer is confronted by violence in our schools.
Lets’ get serious about protecting our most Precious Resource… Our Children. We cannot afford to sit back and let nothing be done. If we choose to do nothing, we only choose to FAIL TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN…
Should you agree with what is written, agree that we need to be proactive vs. simply reactive, agree that one more school shooting is unacceptable, please share, re-post, get mad and do something. If you are interested in additional information concerning CSP’s School Protection Agent program; contact Covenant Special Projects 915-855-8056 www.covenantspecialprojects.com