January 30, 2013
By: Brian Levy – Miami-Dade Schools Police Department
I will start by stating that I am not a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). I do believe that the gun laws are too relaxed in The United States. Personally, I would like to see harsher penalties when gun laws are violated. On this note, the high powered firearms and the high capacity magazines are already in our communities and on our streets. The question is, what do we do now and how do we protect our children while they are in school?
Wayne La-Pierre, the executive vice president of the NRA appears to not want to give in to any of the public pressure to ban certain weapons or high
capacity magazines. Mr. La-Pierre only states that police officers should be stationed at every school. As a school police officer in South Florida, I must say that I actually agree with him. We know that there is a large population of the community with serious mental illness. We also know that there are predators and criminals that are willing to do harm to individuals to further their own personal agenda. When we couple these types of individuals with the open access to firearms (bought legally and illegally) it can be a dangerous mixture.
I have read that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stated that schools shouldn’t be “armed camps for kids”. When I think of an armed camp
for kids, I think of barbed wire fences and security towers. I believe Mr. Christies’ comment inaccurately describes what a police officer at every school
would be like, instead making it sound like a concentration camp. As a police officer working within our school system, I can tell you it is quite the opposite. I have a great relationship with my kids. I often enter into classrooms and speak with them. The children know me and trust me. Many of the students have had negative encounters with law enforcement in the past and it is up to me to repair the relationships. For many of the other children, I am the only officer that they have ever come into contact with. I like to leave the children with an everlasting impression and hope to steer them into a positive life path.
There are many benefits to having a first responder on campus. First and most important is safety-to-life situations. As an officer, I am certified in
Cardio pulmonary resuscitation as well as the Heimlich maneuver. I am always on high alert and investigate anything out of the ordinary. I have a safety checklist that I have created which includes, for example, perimeter walks and neighboring community contact. I investigate crime which occurs on campus and communicate with other local police agencies. I constantly monitor the police radio and when a situation arises that could possibly jeopardize the safety of my campus, I’ll place the school on a lockdown. On a day to day basis, the school has a relaxed atmosphere. Anyone painting the picture that having a police officer on school campus is comparable to an “armed camp for kids” does not know the truth and leads me to believe that they are truly disconnected from society.
I have spoken to hundreds of parents while on and off duty and I have come to the conclusion that every parent feels safer with a police officer at their child’s school. I, as a parent, feel safer knowing that my child’s school has a caring, competent, and well trained police officer on campus all day. Why is it that airports, courthouses, federal buildings and museums get armed law enforcement monitoring their facilities? Instead of debating and creating committees on how to protect our schools, I would like to see immediate action. It is time to make the safety of our children a priority and put a police officer, like myself, on each school campus in the United States.
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