Tom’s Opinion: School Shootings And Law Enforcement
The recent school shooting in Florida has produced a firestorm of Monday morning quarterbacks on what law enforcement should have, or could have, done to prevent 17 deaths.
Who should have done what? What is the responsibility of law enforcement in incidents like this?
Everyone seems to have an opinion of what the armed officers on the scene should have done even though they were not there.
What We Think We Know
Let’s review some known info before tackling the unknown info. This is a large school with some 3,000 students and a large campus.
The shooter pulled a fire alarm to bring a large percentage of students into the school’s hallway providing a lot of targets in a confined space.
According to the attorney for the officer that did not enter the school to engage the shooter was because the officer initially thought the shooting was outside, not inside the school.
As a Vietnam vet I can confirm that when shots are fired it’s not always easy to determine exactly where the shooter is located.
The flat structures of the school buildings would have caused echoes making the source more difficult to determine.
Those killed were most likely killed in a matter of seconds — not minutes.
What Law Enforcement Didn’t Know
Law enforcement didn’t know if there was one shooter or multiple shooters. They didn’t know if the shooter had explosives.
They didn’t know the type of weapons they would be facing. They didn’t know if the shooter was a student or an adult — man or woman.
Depending on where they entered the building there might have innocents between law enforcement and the shooter.
And how do you identify the good guy from the bad guy in that chaotic situation?
When emotion and adrenaline is running high does a student with a cell phone look like a student with a handgun?
Some Final Thoughts
Usually shooters end their own lives in these situations. It’s rare that the shooter is taken into custody.
Aurora, Colorado and Florida are two of these rare instances.
Once again there where dozens of red flags that indicated that this shooter was a very troubled person. Yet no real action was ever taken to get him the help needed.
As a result of that inaction 17 lives were lost.
Hindsight is always 20-20 — Foresight not so much.
Is there a law, ordinance, or directive that would have prevented this tragedy? Unfortunately — probably not.
Government is great at closing the barn door.
A motivated individual will find a way unless we pay more attention to the warning signs. See something — Say something was done but totally ignored in this case.
We mourn — we talk — we wonder. But there are no answers when we continue to avoid the questions.
No parent should kiss their children goodbye each morning then spend the day wondering if he or she will be coming home that night.
Will this action inspire other troubled souls to react violently in the months ahead? Are the red flags waving at someone in your school? Comments below.