Now, what I’m about to say will hopefully start a dialogue among those of you who have kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews and are in either elementary, middle or high schools or colleges. I want you to envision this scenario for a second:
It’s 8am at the local elementary school and you’ve just dropped off your little girl. As you kiss her goodbye, you noticed that there is a security officer sitting in his truck. It’s marked “Campus Security” and you know since you’ve been living here, not one major incident has occurred at the school. Sure, maybe the occasional angry parent who wanted to know why their little darling got a “B minus” on their assignment… but for the most part the principal or teachers resolve the matters quickly. Active shooters are a “big city problem”, you think aloud. It’ll never happen here in Oklahoma!
As you enter your place of business, you see a large crowd of people gathering around the television set. Some are crying and others are screaming profanities at the screen. You ask what’s going on. One of the ladies looks at you with tears in her eyes and says the one thing that no parent or love one ever wants to hear… “There’s been an active shooting at the elementary…. unknown injured… unknown dead.”
You immediately run back to your car and peel out of the parking lot. As you blast through stop signs and red lights, you see every emergency vehicle imaginable on the campus, from police to fire rescue to ambulances to people just trying to help those who are in need. You go around asking teachers or first responders about your daughter. As expected during these chaotic events, no one can answer you right away, which means you’ll have to wait till things settle down before someone can talk to you.
The media shows up and as per their playbook they start looking to find victims or families of victims and to start asking the usual intrusive questions. They ask you questions such like, “What was going through your mind when you heard about the shooting?” Before you can give them a piece of your mind, the police chief holds a press conference. He states that they received the first call around 8:05am and that the security guard called for a lock down immediately, but since the school rarely does lock down drills (it’ll never happen here…) many teachers and administrators were slow to respond and the shooter (later determined to be a parent that was mad that their kid got suspended for fighting) was able to get inside, shooting people as soon as he saw them. The first victim was the principal’s assistant, and then the principal as she was coming down the hallway to investigate. The killer then went room to room searching for more victims.
End result: 12 dead, 27 injured. The shooter was shot and killed by responding police.
Among the death toll… your daughter.
Now as days go by and funerals are either in process or being planned, many questions come up. One is obviously why it happened. You may never get the answer to that. No one can predict the way the mind works. Some will say it was a mental health issue. But in your mind it was an evil person who committed an evil act. Period.
Campus police are telling students to avoid the area following reports of an active shooter at Central Washington University’s campus in Ellensburg, Washington. https://t.co/V6r4uZjLVb
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) February 7, 2019
As the investigations moves forward, some are now beginning to question the security guard. Many ask the question — what did he do to try and stop the shooter from coming into the school?
Was he armed? And if so, why didn’t he try to stop him from entering the building? And if he wasn’t armed why would you be there if you can’t stop a shooting?
The guard finally breaks his silence and made this statement that had even the most harden reporter gasp, his statement would be the buzz word for every shooting that will occur after this:
His statement was:
“Not my monkey…Not my circus.”
“I’m under no legal obligation to act.”
Now before you spit out your coffee, let me first say this: Even though this is fiction (mostly), the above statement is true. Campus security is under no legal obligation to act when it comes to dealing with violent threats. It’s strictly up to the administration of the school, the school district, or in cases like mine where we work with campus police, it’s up to the chief to determine if I can assist the campus officer during an active shooter event.
Folks, you can’t get mad at a campus security officer not wanting to get involved with those types of events. We’re not first responders. Even though many of us are retired law enforcement or military, the state does not classify security officers as first responders, regardless of where we work.
Working schools, especially after Parkland, has been a challenge for those of us who want to contribute to the safety of one of our most valuable treasure… our kids!
So the question I’ll ask parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles is this:
After reading the above scenario do you now feel compelled to see to it that those of us who work within schools are able to properly deal with those situations? Or are you content that we’re not to be held liable for neutralizing a threat?
“Not my monkey…
Not my circus!
From the tower…
Kenneth Wise is a retired police chaplain and retired law enforcement officer.
Who now works as an armed campus security officer at a school in Oklahoma City.