Statewide Coordinated Training Could Reduce Casualties in School Shooting

The public, in all likelihood, assumes too much.

Take, for example, the residents of Uvalde, Texas, and specifically the parents of children who attend Robb Elementary School. We bet these parents assumed that the educators they entrusted their children to and that local and regional law enforcement had developed detailed plans to respond to a violent attack on local schools.

For understandable reasons, government agencies don’t talk about their security procedures. This has a double effect: it sensibly prevents anyone intending to use violence from obtaining critical information, and it also prevents the public from assessing whether those responsible have actually done enough to ensure safety.

It’s not like schools aren’t known to be potential targets for the feeble-minded, angry, immature and violent (mostly) young men our gun culture society practically delivers. military style weapons. Yes, that’s hyperbole, but it reflects how easily young shooters were able to acquire their mini-arsenals as they prepared for battle with unarmed children and teachers.

Here in Arkansas we know this, or at least we think we know this: No one is going to do anything about guns, because even lifting a finger in that direction is tantamount to repealing the Second Amendment.

And, you know, we agree that guns don’t kill people. They are just inanimate objects. But guns allow people who want to kill people to do so quickly and with maximum carnage. Somewhere between “get all the guns back” and “you can have my guns when you get them off my cold, dead fingers” there’s room for a reasonable answer, but the NRA messaging convinced a lot of people those are the only two choices.

But that’s not what it’s all about in today’s twists and turns. As we’ve suggested, leaders in Arkansas who were considering ways to prevent what happened in Uvalde from happening anywhere in that state would be shut down in a heartbeat if they were starting to talk about restrictions on access to firearms. So they won’t.

What Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s School Safety Commission is set to recommend, this newspaper reported a few days ago, is the use of advanced training in rapid response to law enforcement. Texas State University as a unified statewide response plan for school shootings.

The university’s Rapid Response Training Center is the agency that released a damning review of law enforcement response at Robb Elementary School. He determined officers responding to the school had multiple opportunities to slow or stop the shooter before he killed 19 students and two adults.

This center has developed a training program that ranges from law enforcement intervention to civilian training to emergency triage of the wounded.

Clarksville School District superintendent David Hopkins told the commission that his armed personnel had received TSU training. “From the start, they are taught to go to the gunfire and stop the killings,” he said. “Whether it’s tying him down keeping him occupied until the cavalry arrives or you stop them.”

Go to the gunfire and stop the slaughter. It’s awful that such a phrase has to be uttered when talking about school safety. But it is a harsh reality. And residents of Uvalde, Texas assumed that was exactly what law enforcement would do. But the officers waited…and waited…and waited.

Let’s not make it look easy to run for the balls. It is not, and most people faced with such life-threatening circumstances will be tempted to run in the opposite direction. But the soldiers of our armed forces and the officers of our law enforcement agencies are, at best, valiant men and women who put their lives on the line every day for the safety of the communities they serve. Implementing a school-focused training program across the state will help ensure that when the time comes — and we pray that day will never come again — responding officers will be at their best. And that educators also know how to react.

Arkansas has so many political subdivisions and fiefdoms that it can be extremely difficult to create a unified and consistent level of training across the state. In 75 counties and more than 500 incorporated cities, there are 261 school districts and more than 1,000 public school buildings. The state has more than 200 law enforcement agencies.

Officials brag about cooperation all the time, but the reality is that it doesn’t go that far. There is also plenty of turf protection.

Here’s the most important fact, though: Child protection is everyone’s business.

If the School Safety Commission proposes this statewide training regimen, we have no doubt that some proponents of gun control will complain that their final report does not adequately address guns and that has access to it. We are certainly not saying that they are not right. But progress is made by doing what is possible when possible.

Implementing a statewide protocol for rapid response to a school shooting will increase the likelihood that all law enforcement agencies in Arkansas will know what to do and can do it. do together. It might not be a perfect answer, but increasing the chances of success in saving lives is worth it, even if it doesn’t go as far as some might like.

Arkansas must take significant steps to ensure that no community within its borders will be the next Uvalde.

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