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Elementary School Security: Should It Be Increased?

In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, some local law enforcement agencies are beefing up patrols at elementary schools. We want to hear from you Tampa Bay on whether this is a good idea or not?

On a crisp December Friday, a lone gunman walked onto an elementary school campus in Newtown, Conn., and began a rampage that would ultimately end the lives of 20 children, all between the ages of 6 and 7, and seven adults – himself included.

As the grim news unfolded, people across America sat glued to the latest media reports on the internet and television. Most asked why this happened. Some desperately sought answers to the question of how such a shooting could occur in the first place. Sanity questions aside, they wanted to know how a gunman could get onto a secured campus and wreak such havoc.

That’s the question local law enforcement seems to have been wrestling with, as well.

As law enforcement continues to unravel the details of Friday’s massacre, officers in some local counties aren’t taking any chances. The Hillsborough and Pasco County Sheriff’s Offices and the Tampa Police Department have announced increased patrols at local elementary schools. Other Bay area agencies haven't announced their plans.

Some parents are applauding the decision. Others are saying it’s not necessary.

“There is no threat and all the hype won't make a difference,” said Fern, a Brandon Patch reader, on a story about the increased patrols. “Then it will all die down people will revert to what they always do and then unfortunately some crazy person will strike again.”

Here’s what we’d like to get your opinion on Tampa Bay: What steps do you think should be taken to prevent such a tragedy from happening here? Do you think it’s time for elementary schools to have their own school resource officers like middle and high school campuses have in many counties? Do you think enough is being done already? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Michael D. December 17, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Not being the Forum police, but by the third time you are insulting the intelligence of those who are reading. It becomes spam, which at this point it is. You are spamming us with this message over and over again, with the link. Ask yourself if you see the same message over and over again, does it make it more or less effective. But currently you have turned from messenger to spammer. And there is a huge difference between the two.
-Ed Harris- December 17, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Actually the facts are quite clear. There are 98,817 public schools in the US. A little over 1/3 already have a police officer on campus already during school hours. 4 separate studies found keeping an additional officer in the school zone area of one mile caused little to no additional costs, it was simply a matter of organization on the part of dispatchers. Considering 2/3 of the countries officers that work schools are off duty cops earning extra money (because we are to cheap to pay them a good wage) the dollar impact to have one cop in each school is much lower than you might think. General estimates project about $00.09 would be added to your county taxes. Are you telling me you don't have NINE CENTS! A fully trained motivated well armed police officer can and would stop someone like the sick man that killed 20 children and even if he was caught off guard he/she would most likely injure and/or slow down the killer. These are serious times and it is time for serious answers. Having a cop at school does not make kids scared, it makes them feel safe because they are safer. This is not about fear it is just proven common sense. Stat's don't lie. So yes for pennies 20 children might be alive today. That does not mean the staff would have not been injured or killed but the Police officer would have been there in time to save the kids. The issue of mental health and gun laws will take years to hash out, in the meantime this could be in place in a matter of weeks.
Michael D. December 17, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Ed, I agree there should be at least one School Resource Officer/Police Officer in a school. I know we had one at my school K-12. And you got to know him early, and he wasn't an off-duty officer his job was to be at the school for 8 hours and else were for the rest of his shift. I don't see why it can't be the case in all schools. It also introduces kids to the police in a non-threatening manner.
melissa December 17, 2012 at 10:05 PM
One of the most direct posts I have heard, with an attainable start to a solution! I wish you would post this to every congress, senate, governor in your states....why cant we at least try?
-Ed Harris- December 17, 2012 at 10:06 PM
I have three kids in the Public school system and no I don't want grandpa at the entrance with a Colt stuffed in his belt!
dan December 17, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Ed, there is no money for police. You insult a grandfather who today could be 50 or even 40..it is a word of comfort and sorry, I disagree, an armed deterrent is the only thing that can prevent this from being as tragic as it is. Armed officers are targets. A person going to kill targets officers. Did you know you fly on planes with armed granpas all the time and do not know it. That is what this is. I do not want my kids under a police state at school. Today I have been in contact with every county in the state of Florida and I know that through networking i have people in Oregon asking questions. We have to ask the questions. There is NO too much when it comes to children.
-Ed Harris- December 17, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Sir, with all due respect, I will be a grand father before long and as a former Military Police Officer I have absolutely no business being at my kids or grand kids schools in the capacity of armed security. While it is a honorable gesture on your part, it is an insurance nightmare and completely impractical. I am more than willing to admit that while I am in excellent shape and a better shot than most, the job in question IS for a highly trained, well armed official Police Officer between the age of 21-45. I am to old and do not perform the the tasks on a regular basis and get constant training in regards to the job in question. So sorry if I stepped on your toes a bit but I'd rather step on your toes than see 20 more kids shot and killed along with a grand father.
Clint Seeley December 17, 2012 at 10:43 PM
some people have suggested we "Outlaw" guns to get them out of the hands of Criminals.... If this is the case, why don't we also "Outlaw" Crack and Heroin too?
Donna Scott December 17, 2012 at 11:49 PM
great idea !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Donna Scott December 17, 2012 at 11:49 PM
i agree, i like that idea
dan December 18, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Ed, no offense taken and all people will have different views. it is what makes good conversation. It is about presence. I do not want armed officers in schools that are taking away from crime that is occurring in real time. It should not matter if it is an insurance nightmare either. Excuses that boards and elected officials make. .If you feel you could not help in a capacity as a Grancop armed then I would ask that anyone who would want to could help with administration or just spreading the word. Our country makes excuses before they try. If nothing comes of this, and there is another shooting, my faith in this country to protect our children would be gone but i will know that I tried all that I could.
Lori December 18, 2012 at 02:42 AM
I agree that all our schools should have a school resource officer/police officer at the school at all times when children are present. This kind of tragedy cannot happen again, and needs immediate consideration. The problem will be taxes will be raised, I would pay any cost increase to ensure our kids are safe. I also believe an experienced police officer should be the one for the job. It's a shame we have to resort to this but we have to protect all children, meaning we all have to do our part to make this happen. We cannot put a dollar amount on on childrens lives, they are priceless!! I also feel there is no need for high power guns other than for police or military.
Edward Yablecki December 18, 2012 at 12:10 PM
I have not put much thought in this, but I would like to comment on some feelings. I believe in some ways that our fears are getting the best of us. I am saddened at every senseless tradgedy, but can we increase security and diminish peoples rights and solve the problem? I would say, possibly a little, but I would argue that these funds are not being spent well. I tend to think we try to put a bandaid on the symptom instead of working on the disease. I believe we have to look at cultural changes. Whats terrible about the school situation, it was a town that had in our eyes a solid cultural values, and thats why we fear it so much.
angela roberts December 18, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Locked doors at all entrances with cameras and intercoms in place, panic alarms directly dispatching Police would be a start....I am not a gun enthusiasts but I do know from years as a former police officer that most guns that are used in crimes are not registered to the criminal and obtained properly or legally for that matter, and in the Ct case the guns were taken from his mother. I am a parent of 3 children and these senseless acts of violence break my heart and make me worry for their safety growing up exposed to so many horribe things...this certainly hits home.
-Ed Harris- December 18, 2012 at 01:26 PM
When I grew up we were taught to respect and look up to the Police, They were a guiding light and symbol of hope, truth and safety. If that has changed for you I am so sorry. I continue to teach my children those same principles. I had a cop in middle school and high school. We had no shootings, violence was very low, theft was low, I don't recall anyone ever complaining about the needed taxes for that back then. We do have the money and do have the resources to staff up. Somewhere along the line people have forgotten that there are more important things than money. All the whining about taxes has gotten to the point of where we can't see the tree's for the forest. In a free society yes sometimes you do have to bend personal liberties for the sake of the others. I am all for watching our money closely and trying to spend wisely but that does not mean being stupid! The government is not a business and should never be run like one. The government is not a church and should never be run like one. Capitalism is for the open market and religion is for the church. Governments do not run like either and must always lean on the side of caution, acceptance, giving and safety even if it means going in debt for a while or raising taxes. These solutions are simple, common sense ideas that have already been proven to work. Time to use our resources wisely!
Michael D. December 18, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Angela, So what does locking the doors accomplish. Removes a escape if their is a fire, and way to escape if there is another shooter. Lets be logical in how to address this problem. The school in his shooting had cameras which are great after the fact. But most school boards aren't going to have a person manning security cameras, when those resources are better suited elsewhere. Intercoms are great if used. I thank the panic button is veasible and a school resource officer might be able to remove or limit the damage by another threat.
Michael D. December 18, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Dan, This is a good agrument. I disagree with you that this is the best solution, but at least it is an open to conversation. I hope you do well in your meeting with local administrations.
Charles Levy December 18, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Perhaps we could put officers in all the schools, however, people would talk about costs. Some of the costs could be off set by looking at management we have in the schools and the crazy salaries that are being paid. We could look at a security tax to fund the extra security. We could look within these law enforcment depts and see who could come from riding a desk to back out to the field. We could have the police stop into these schools for that cup of coffee that they would have elsewhere. The lottery money that is used for schools could be used to fund security.
Michael D. December 18, 2012 at 04:22 PM
The funding and resources are there. Just need to be made a priority.
Sandi December 19, 2012 at 08:35 PM
People want to do something now. Set up donation sites for all the elementary schools. Start with gun proof, break in proof front doors. Then put bullet proof glass in the windows. Security companies, I'm sure would love to donate a system with cameras and a quick unlock system in case of fire drills or real fire or other such needs. Front door entry only and all other doors exit only. Doors should be locked and kids that are going to be late should stay home. This is such a small price to pay to keep elementary school kids safer. I know my doors to my home are always locked and so is my front gate. A good defense is a good offense. This monster was a sissy hiding behind a gun, like most sissies. He didn't go after Sr or Jr High students. He went after the most vulnerable of all school kids. He would have never made it into this soft target which is what we have made our elementary schools.
Sandi December 19, 2012 at 08:41 PM
I love police too, but do they really have to have new cars all the time. These cars are well taken care of and remember every time it's a new car it's also new car radios and new car computers and new car lights and new car graphics. Let them hold onto their cars a year or two longer and we could hire police with THAT money. Wasted money as far as I can see. Put a policeman where he can best PROTECT AND SERVE.
Sandi December 19, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Edward, There is not enough money in the world to cure the disease of today's society. Good luck with that one. Secure our schools with gun-safe windows and doors that cannot get broken into. And police at all elementary schools.
melissa December 19, 2012 at 08:58 PM
I for one am contacting every school authority, police authority and political authority in my city, county and state to make some real changes. These blogs are great to post our thoughts, ideas and concerns but we must also take time to share our ideas with those that can help produce change. There are many ideas, some I agree with others I dont, but without opening the doors for conversation we will not solve anything. My face has been swollen from crying since Friday (it hits home since I have a 5 year old in Kinder) so I have decided to turn that pain into something positive. I have sent at least two emails every day since to try and light a fire for conversation. Writing school principals, state education boards, superintedents, congressmen, senate reps, governors, state police departments, county police departments--this is where we will actually see some changes. I have made it my personal mission to send two emails every day until I see something happen....I have three kids, all busy, a full-time job, a husband with a full-time job, an active volunteer at our schools, and an active community volunteer for our kids sports programs...but I have found the time to research and write....make it your priority too!
Todd December 20, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Over 28,000 schools in the U.S. have armed security and guess what? Two shootings which were stopped immediately. It is the world we live in and one that politics helped to create. Adjust to it. We have no choice.
dan December 20, 2012 at 10:39 PM
You can make a difference....this is from St Pete. This is a grass roots movement not a charity..... 2 retired military or law enforcement www.facebook.com/grancops www.grancops.com I want to thank my sons principal, Mr James Pribble, for taking the time from his day to talk to a concerned parent. I was afraid, to be honest, that when I sat down and finally discussed this as a reality it would be pushed aside and told they are handling it. Go home Mr. Fahey. But it didn't. If that happens at the school you go to, go on to the next. We sat down and he listened to my concern, thoughts and we discussed the best options for the children. We talked about what they have in place now and what is needed. I explained to him my idea and the needs, discussed the local police (thanks again to Chief Robert Vincent for your guidance and information), discussed pros/cons and I told him that I really wanted my sons school to be was the pilot to launch. He told me he wanted it to be a start of something that would propagate. Do not be afraid to start this for the Protectors and Angels of Last Friday. Ask the school, talk to local law and go to the school board. Sit in the office and wait. I would have waited in that seat to see Mr Pribble for days if I thought it would make a difference. This is NOT about gun control or mental illness. It is about protection. I do not want a band aid I want to know my child is safe.
melissa December 20, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Exactly! We want a change at our schools yesterday! It is not ok to ignore this or wait for us to analyze the mental illness polices or gun control policies....are children's safety should be addressed now. This is happening in large schools, small schools, kids brining guns to school because they feel scared, kids not attending schools due their or their parents fear or concerns. Get vocal people, its your children, grandchildren and there is no substitute for safety at our schools. At my local schools I have witnessed several lax policies and although there may be heightened awareness now, what about in January when the kids return? We need to ask for a change that will stick.
Sandi December 26, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Lucas, you couldn't ever cover all the soft targets. And by the time someone is alerted, if they come in shooting, many are dead anyway. Eliminate the weapons that have repeat fire capabilities. A small handgun or a shotgun for hunting is what weapon control should allow. Do you really think a buglar is going to come into your home by the dozen so that you need an assault weapon?? In your theory, how could they have cops with guns in a school, courtroom or airport?? Same bells and whistles would go off. Come on Lucas, THINK
Sandi December 26, 2012 at 05:05 PM
An emergency button would not have helped these kids. We need to secure the schools with bullet - proof windows and doors. We also need to have one way open for in and out with a policeman on guard at the door with a repeat-fire gun like the weapon used on these kids, so if there is an intruder, he or she can be pumped up with bullets just like those six and seven year olds. Metal detectors should be in a hallway just outside the main door and an emergency response lock on the door in case the metal detector goes off. We owe this much to our children. To society, we owe the police every advantage. They need to have laws that allow them to be pro-active as many gun-toters will give you the argument that police are only there after the fact. That's because they don't have any laws that will help them to remove these guns BEFORE THE FACT. NRA's method does not work and NRA is a minority with all the rights. A shotgun for hunting and a small non-repeat handgun for an individual. And not multi-guns of any kind to one person. Want to collect guns?? Good go live somewhere else, because we are tired of the way things are being run now. IT WILL CHANGE!
Sandi December 26, 2012 at 05:10 PM
DAN, you need to advsertise on the advertising site. not here. it's not apropriate!
dan December 27, 2012 at 03:33 AM
I am not advertising. I am not asking for money to put anything in schools just resources if you want them. I have now created a network of like minded parents. For free. Sorry if it was not clear in on the website. If you checked the site we are simply trying to answer questions people may have. I have a full time job and just doing this with my wife but it has grown. Free speech I think it is that covers this. Trying to empower others that there are options. The NRA suggestion, if you look, does not call for guns in schools. It is asking to create a security template but if you watch the speech and not "Code Pink" protest they stated if you do not want guns, you do not need them. Just make sure your school is safe. Funding is at an all time low..do you think Gates and electronic entry are too high on the list? Nope. However, if you ask for change on the local level it might bubble up, and if not, then it does not. I am just being a voice...

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