Thursday, February 15, 2018

Another School Shooting

By now you have heard that there has been another school shooting here in the United States, the 18th, in fact, since January 1, 2018. This was the exact email that I sent to my employees last night in reaction to the news:

"Good Evening-

By now you have heard that another school shooting has occurred and that there were fatalities. Over the next hours and days, you are going to see tweets, news articles, and broadcasts. The words "thoughts and prayers" will be thrown around like they mean something. They don't. Elected officials will argue gun control and mental wellness, as they always do, and nothing will happen. Again.

My email box and phone will light up in the coming days by salespeople from "school safety" companies, trying to capitalize on this tragedy by attempting to scare parents into making us spend money on bulletproof glass and backpacks. There may even be a few calls to put school resource officers in every building. All of those things combined will not stop another school shooting from happening.

Does this sound negative? It shouldn't. It should sound realistic. Our relationships with students, our knowledge of school safety plans, our promotion of "if you see something, say something", and our access to mental health care are the best things we can do to keep us all safe. Additionally, our drills need to be taken seriously, and we ALL need to understand that we are equally responsible for our own safety and the safety of the students. We are in this together every day.

If there was something I could do or say to make these shootings never happen again, I would be all over it. My voice is not important enough. Collectively we can have in impact. One fish cannot survive against predators, but a school of fish can thrive in any waters We need to continue to swim together.

Thank you."

The NUMBER ONE thing that I have thought about for the past 18 years, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is keeping everyone "on my watch" safe. I have studied, in the greatest detail possible, every school shooting. How did they enter the school, how did they get their weapon of choice, was the person known, what were their walking path(s) in the school, etc. It is clear that when someone wants to enter a school building, church, mall, etc. to cause harm, they will find a way; so we need to be vigilant and always ready.

We have created safety plans, have practiced them thoroughly and frequently, have conducted "active shooter drills" with staff and students (our staff have even heard "live" rounds in their school buildings so they know what one sounds like), are making sure that our employees have Crisis Prevention Institute Training (I am a trainer), and are working with Upstate on trauma wound control (Stop the Bleed). All of those things make us feel prepared, and I am confident that we will execute those things to perfection should we ever need to. I hope we never need to.

The bigger picture though is since we cannot rely on lawmakers and policymakers to help us, we need to rely on each other.

Chief Winn of the Camillus Police Department and I rely on tips. When you see something, you need to say something. It can be in the neighborhood, at school, at the mall, at the store, at church, while you are on your run, wherever. We both need to know what is out there so that we can assess the threat level and put plans in place. It may seem like we take the information and "it goes nowhere", but I can assure you that it does. Our tabletop drills are based on things that could realistically happen in our community, and many of those exercises are based on tips that we receive. Any amount of information we can have about people, situations, or events can pay dividends in prevention of and preparedness for future acts. It costs nothing to relay a tip, but can save us in areas that you cannot put a price tag on; our safety.

Thank you for reading and for being an active part of the solution.