The European Union
Officer Tony Rumaker walks an average of 14,000 steps a day through the Nebraska high school in which he was assigned by the sheriff. He greets the students in the morning, walks the hall, talks to the youth and keeps an eye on the lonely eaters in the cafeteria.
A former Marine, youth pastor for years, Rumaker keeps his office in suburban Omaha full of treats as eating gives kids a little calm in the midst of a crisis.
He has always wondered what he would do if a gunman attacked the school, as happened in Uvalde, Texas, in May, when a young man killed 19 children and two teachers in a fourth-grade classroom. The fear that the next episode of this type will take place at their school torments “school resource officers”, as agents who ensure safety in schools across the country are called in, further making the already difficult task even more difficult. gives. They are expected to be ready to fight and build trust with parents and students.
Ramekar, who practices martial arts, said he is ready to do everything in his power to protect the students and the school staff. He always carries a revolver in his waistband and keeps a rifle in his office. He says that the officers should be mentally prepared for firing and take quick decisions.
“If someone tries to hurt my family, whether it’s my blood family or my school family, I can’t hesitate,” he said.
The threat of school shootings was on everyone’s lips at the recent National Association of School Resource Officers conference in Colorado, where hundreds of officers received training.
The booths were full of ideas about how to stop someone who starts a school shooting, including locks, gadgets that look like someone is shooting and a folding rifle that an officer allegedly shot. But takes it to school in Alabama in his backpack.
“Moms and dads don’t want to see this gun in their school, but they have to be there,” said Dan Pose, CEO of Gulf Coast Tactical, a rifle-selling company.
Agents heard explanations about what worked and what didn’t in the attacks on various schools. In one in Parkland, Florida, an officer did not immediately issue a warning when he saw an armed man entering the school. The officer was charged with concealment and is facing trial for negligence.
There was also talk of an incident at an elementary school in Colorado in 2019 in which a private guard accidentally injured two students.
A Colorado sheriff highlighted another flaw in that incident: Officers unnecessarily traumatized children by sending them to a column during the evacuation, placing their hands on their heads, regardless of whether the armed person was known to be a juvenile or an adult. was.
“It’s something that will haunt them for the rest of their lives,” Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said.
Officer Roy Mitchell Jr. said he doesn’t want all of his work to revolve around preparing for a possible assault, but he is always on the lookout for strangers at the Baltimore high school where he works. He also discusses where he would take the students if there was an attack.
“I always like to have an action plan on hand,” he said.
However, the authorities working in the schools have been criticized for their treatment of minority students. According to critics of the policy, African-Americans in particular are disproportionately arrested or punished when a school deploys armed guards. Minority students say they do not feel as safe as whites.
Officials say they are aware of the criticism and they try to build relationships with students for reasons that go beyond just the disciplinary aspect. He says he should get classes on how to deal with children and teens. Gone are the days when it was enough to hire a retired officer and park a patrol car in front of the school. Agents must now be counselors and teachers, be empathetic and diplomatic with students and school staff, as well as be prepared to use weapons if necessary.
Mitchell, Rumaker and other officials who attended the Denver conference said it’s important to build relationships and get to know students, to know what’s going on in their lives.
Some help out in the cafeteria if an employee gets sick. Others sit in the last row in classes to see how things are going and get to know the students better.
They are encouraged to teach classes on topics such as the civil rights of citizens and the legal process. They know which car each student drives, who goes out with whom and who can go to the bathroom to eat alone because they don’t have friends.
The idea is that these aspects of the job can help them understand what kinds of problems can arise in school.
There are some people who say that schools should not have police. Some districts abandoned their services during demonstrations protesting racial injustice following the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in 2020.
Detective Beth Sanborn says she is more aware of student emotional issues, fights, and breakup crises than the possibility of assault, but agrees on the importance of building relationships with students.
“There will always be a possibility of (attack), but we believe a sense of community can deter violence of any kind,” he said.