Local schools see teachable moment in national gun violence walkout

Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.  (Sun Sentinel 2018)

The 24-hour news cycle provides no shortage of incidents that illustrate the need for police reforms to our current system, the most recent and tragic example being the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

While student organizers at other schools have openly advocated for stricter gun laws, Fogg said, Hartford student organizers have chosen to keep this event apolitical. The organizers have encouraged more politically minded students to take advantage of a bus that will be taking students from the high school to Montpelier on March 24 for a walk there.

After the shooting, shocking news broke that the school resource officer, who was armed, failed to enter the school to pursue the shooter. And it now appears that three other Broward County deputies who were at the school did not enter, according to responding officers from nearby Coral Springs.

I really hope that our government in Vermont will really start taking steps forward and changing gun laws in Vermont, and then nationally, said Walker Money, who advocated for raising the age limit for gun purchases. Bringing attention to the issue and showing that our future generation really cares about this and we have to change it.

This begs very real and serious questions when it comes to police reform. How can we better prepare police officers to serve and protect? When advocating for reform in any profession, the advocates perspective dictates what the reform should look like.  As a conservative, a retired police officer and a former director of a police academy, my interest in policing reforms involves improving a profession I greatly respect, not tearing it down.

For well over 40 years, Hanover High School has called itself a democratic school and we try to live that, Campbell said. Staff and Hanover Police were on hand to keep students safe as they walked down Lebanon Street to deliver an estimated 1,500 postcards to elected representatives, urging for a legislative fix.

The reforms that are applicable to the colossal failure in Parkland are the same needed in response to the recent tragic shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Mesa, Arizona.

When Sandy Hook happened I was in third grade, and I just remember being so scared. I was terrified to go to school the next day. I didnt want to get out of the car, said Hillary Mackall, a 14-year-old eighth-grade student who is helping to organize the walkout at Richmond Middle School.

Students gun walkout sends message to adults: Do something

Hiring and training practices must ensure that our nation has the most effective people serving as police officers. What this looks like might be a little different in every jurisdiction, as each community has its own unique needs and priorities, but there is an important need for a rare balance and skill set in this profession. A police officer must be compassionate, capable of thinking critically, not easily offended or excited, physically and mentally fit, and capable of using restraint or force (including deadly force) if needed.

Vermont Agency of Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe recently released a memo in which she said the right to free speech does not extend to disrupting classes (which prevents others from learning), nor to leaving school without permission (which potentially creates a safety threat).

That is a tall order, to be sure. Any deviation from the proper balance sets up the potential for catastrophic failure. Police officers may go years or even an entire career without encountering the particular incident that is a perfect storm of dysfunction when combined with their particular skill deficiency. When it does happen, we get tragic headlines as seen in Parkland, Tulsa, or Mesa.

Schools Prepare as National Movement Takes Shape in Hallways

The role of a police officer is to protect personal rights and maintain peace. Both functions are carried out through the enforcement of laws, but it doesnt end there. The police are, or should be, as much a part of the communities they serve as they are a part of the government.

The complex individual that makes up an outstanding police officer may be difficult to find, and even harder to hire. Thankfully, there are already innumerable examples of such a combination on our streets today actively serving as police officers.

If you look at civil rights, people chose civil disobedience and they took their lumps, either standing in front of a judge or paying a fine, Millington said. Sometimes if its important enough that you have that feeling, you make that decision anyway.

Northland students plan walkout to honor shooting victims

Much of what a police officer does could be done by most citizens. It takes no particular skill to write a report, issue a ticket, or check a door. Its the rare occasions when a police officers unique skills are needed that are precisely why we have highly trained police officers. They are very expensive insurance policies for when things go very bad. However, the same characteristics that can make an officer functional on the more mundane component of policing are not always found together with the requisite characteristics for the exceptional, dangerous component. An imbalance of either gives us demonstrated results: shooting people we should not shoot or not shooting people we should. Both situations are unacceptable.

The failure of a police officer (or officers) to go in to confront an active shooter, as we saw in Parkland, can be caused by several factors. Hopefully, new details will come to light and the full story can be examined so our police forces can prevent future tragedies. Until then, hiring the right people, training them the right way, involving the public in policy development, and monitoring the culture within the agency are additional policing reforms that are relevant to every community, not just in the aftermath of a tragedy, but in order to avoid it.

The complex individual that makes up an outstanding police officer may be difficult to find, and even harder to hire. Thankfully, there are already innumerable examples of such a combination on our streets today actively serving as police officers. Simple policing reforms allow communities to make sure those courageous and capable officers are surrounded by others just like them. They are not looking to make headlines, and should not be equated with the few, misguided officers who become nationally recognized for all the wrong reasons. There are more of the right ones out there. We just need to find them and train them right.

Buried deep in school safety proposal is a bid to repeal the Obama administrations Rethink School Discipline policies

Randy Petersen severed twenty-one years in law enforcement and is a former Director of one of the largest police academies in Texas. He currently is a senior analyst at  Right on Crime and the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.  

As a self-described pro-Second Amendment conservative, Kyle Kashuv stands out like a sore thumb at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The 16-year-old junior survived the horrific shooting that left 17 people dead and dozens more wounded at his Parkland, Fla., school on Feb. 14. But contrary to many of his fellow survivors, Kashuv does not believe that limiting access to firearms is the solution to the nations gun violence problem.

"I do think gun reform is not an American ideology and would be desecrating the sacred document of the United States Constitution, the document that allowed this country to become so great," Kashuv told the Daily News on Monday.

Kashuv has been embraced by right-wing media and the National Rifle Association, and he sat down with President Trump and First Lady Melania in the Oval Office to talk about school safety on Wednesday.

"Trump walked in with a huge smile and said, Where is Kyle? He was so amazing to me," Kashuv said.

Unlike most Stoneman Douglas students who have been vocal in the wake of last months massacre, Kashuv believes that teachers should be allowed to carry weapons in school.

"Nothing should ever be a gun-free zone," he said. "Killers dont care about labels."

Kashuv is also against the idea of raising the legal sales age for firearms from 18 to 21 — a measure recently signed into law by Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott and immediately challenged by a lawsuit from the NRA.

Gun control advocates have pointed out that such a law would have prevented 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz from legally purchasing the AR-15 assault rifle that he used to kill his former classmates and teachers.

But Kashuv contends that restricting access to guns — even military-grade guns — is un-American.

Such talking points have landed him in heated back-and-forth with some of his classmates.

When fellow Stoneman Douglas student David Hogg tweeted that people should discuss gun control as "Americans," not as "Democrats and Republicans," Kashuv fired back, "As an American, I love the Constitution and dont want you stepping on it. Cool?"

As Hogg and other Stoneman Douglas students push for an assault rifle-ban, Kashuv has been tweeting hashtags like "ConstitutionOverGunControl" while touting a bill introduced by GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ted Cruz.

The Grassley-Cruz measure proposes to expand Second Amendment rights and allow interstate firearms sales and transportation. It also proposes to earmark more money for mental health resources.

Kashuv said no one in his family owns guns and that hes staunchly in favor of gun ownership because it is "the right thing."

"Why do I need to own a gun to realize our constitution is what made us the most powerful country in history?" he said.

While Kashuv and his classmates disagree on just about everything in terms of legislation, there is one point that they agree on.

"I dont want what happened in my school to ever happen again," he said.

Posted in Buffalo