Last updated: February 20. 2013 1:03AM - 181 Views

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Employ in-school officers instead of armed teachers

As a parent, grandparent, and retired administrator, which included a stint with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, the suggestion to train teachers or administrators to carry loaded weapons in schools is frightening.

I am in no way putting down teachers or administrators; this is not their responsibility and certainly unfair. What's more, it is my opinion that there is no training available to prepare a teacher or administrator to be competent enough to carry a loaded weapon in a school with children kindergarten-12th. I have firsthand knowledge of the training offered at the state's Elizabethtown academy. State correctional officers, county and municipal police officers receive their training and certification to carry a loaded weapon at the academy. Upon completion of the training, the officers are told they have been instructed on the safety and capabilities of weapons and received basic instruction on when and how to make the decisions to use the weapons. Only years of experience and working with seasoned officers can make you proficient in the decision process on the use of force. We do not need school-based Rambos.

If I were still in the fold I would recommend that the board of education use recently retired law enforcement officers with stellar records of service. I am somewhat against uniformed officers in the halls and classrooms. The ideal would be the use of recently retired who would have responsibilities beyond walking the halls of the school. Retired law enforcement officers have knowledge far beyond the competencies needed to be police officers. Many hold degrees; many have a high degree of experience working the streets. They possess ethics and citizenship dedicated to serving the public.

Most school districts have problems with having enough substitutes for absent teachers. My suggestion would be to use the in-school officers as substitute teachers. A prepared curriculum could be developed that is based on the law enforcement officer training and experience. I believe that there is far too little instruction that covers basic life skills, right from wrong life choices and the consequences of life choices. An in-school officer who is given this responsibility will carry much more credibility with the students who, by the way, should earn credits and be graded on this activity. The PA Department of Corrections, SCI Dallas ran a program called Threshold for inmates scheduled for release, a curriculum/process worth looking at for our school children. School violence and the growth of gangs should tell us that not all children know or understand that this is wrong. In-school officers can play a major role in turning the trend around.

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Richard A. Holodick Wilkes Barre

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