The headline of this post was the stated position of Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley as indicated in a March, 2012 WNT article titled “Police presence returns to high school, Oak Harbor motorcycle cop dropped in tradeoff“. Mayor Dudley’s comment in March was in reference to a shooting at Cleveland High School in February, 2012.
On December 07, 2012, at the Memorial for Chris Cooper – one week before the December 14 school shooting in Newton, Connecticut - I asked Mayor Dudley if he thought that perhaps a police presence at local bars serving alcohol might be a better use of police personnel than at Oak Harbor High School.
Mayor Dudley’s indicated to me on December 07 that his position on having a police presence at Oak Harbor High School was unchanged from what the WNT reported back in March. Mayor Dudley explained to me that the number of people regularly concentrated at the high school made having a police presence at Oak Harbor High School a logical choice. The context for my inquiry to the mayor on that day is exemplified by a December 19 WNT article “Increase in Oak Harbor bar violence sparks concern“, which the WNT published five days after the events in Newton, Connecticut.
Without having spoken to him about this topic since then, I would still surmise that the events in Newton, Connecticut have not caused Mayor Dudley to waiver from his position about having a police officer at Oak Harbor High School. However, the events in Connecticut occurred not at a high school but at an elementary school, of which we have five in the Oak Harbor School District, plus two middle schools, for a total of eight schools.
So, is the reason we have ONE police officer in ONE of our eight local schools to act as an armed protector in case of a school shooting, as Mayor Dudley seems to posit? Or, is it mainly, as the OHHS principal described back in March to…
“…build a connection between the school and police and…to have an officer on hand when a discipline issue becomes a police issue“?
Oh, and the high school principal also added:
“An added bonus is the high school will have a police presence during large community events such as home football games“.
In other words, the school district seems to like having a paid-for police presence as much as possible within their federally mandated “gun free zone“, a zone which, of course, deters only law-abiding non-police-force-type citizens from bringing guns into schools. (Washington State RCW 9.41.280 also prohibits firearms on school premises).
While we have but one police officer assigned to our eight local public schools, a New York Times article Schoolhouse to Courthouse delineates that:
“In New York City, the Police Department has a special unit to protect students in public schools. With some 5,000 agents, the School Safety Division is larger than all but a handful of the country’s big-city police departments: there are nearly twice as many safety officers in city schools as guidance counselors and nearly four times as many safety officers as social workers.”
According to that article, over 882 arrests occurred in New York City public schools during the 2011-12 school year. In Oak Harbor, the only school-related arrest I recently recall was when a boy’s father was arrested in September, 2011 after his son brought a gun to school and was expelled for doing so.
So, while Oak Harbor is obviously much smaller than New York City, we have ONE designated school safety officer for our approximately 5,000 students in eight different school buildings. Is that enough? I guess the question I have is: enough to do what, exactly?
I recently watched the entire video of the National Rifle Association‘s call “for placing an armed security guard at every school“. I felt Wayne La Pierre made some really excellent points about the potential effectiveness of armed security guards, but I thought he may have gotten off his main theme a bit too much by dwelling on things like video games and movies having violence in them. I also thought Asa Huchinson has made a pretty good analogy about the use of Air Marshalls on commercial aircraft in discussing the National School Shield Program which the NRA is promoting.
Two seemingly contrary points in the WSJ “NRA Calls for Arms in School“ article have caught my interest. The first was:
“A Department of Education survey conducted during the 2009-2010 school year found that 23,200 of the nation’s public schools, or 28% of those surveyed, reported already having security officers who carry firearms on campus at least once a week. “
The other interesting point was:
“Each year, since 1992, less than 2% of all youth homicides occurred at an elementary or high school or as children walked to school, according to a report issued earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice.”
Below is a video of the entire NRA press conference from Friday, 21 December made in response to the 14 December school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut. As one person said in an email to me today about this video:
“What a difference from the presentation of the “slightly nightly news”. If the nation is going to have an intelligent conversation about weapons, then all sides should be listened to in the entirety of their thoughts.”
Tags: asa huchinson, Chris Cooper, connecticut, gun control, motorcycle cop in oak harbor, national rifle association, national school shield program, newtown, Oak Harbor High School, Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley, Oak Harbor School District (OHSD), Second Amendment, violence in oak harbor bars, Wayne LaPierre