February 21, 2018

‘Adept’ Is Not Enough …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:47 pm

StonemanDouglasHSPresident Trump met today at the White House with students and families from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  The meeting was scheduled as a listening session for the President.  It was an opportunity for him to listen to comments and pleas from some of those affected by the mass murder at the school on February 14, 2018.  By all accounts I’ve seen, the President listened attentively and respectfully and was appropriately engaged with those who attended the meeting.

As reported in the Fox News story headlined Trump on preventing mass shootings: ‘we’re going to get it done’, a parent suggested “… that a select few teachers, administrators, or other school employees volunteer to become a designated “undercover police officer,” to manage a potential tragedy prior to the arrival of first responders.”

There followed some discussion about allowing volunteers on school staff to carry concealed weapons after receiving the appropriate training.

President Trump said, “It takes five to eight minutes for first responders. So the attack is over. If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end [the attack].”

My opinion is that it is not enough to be “adept at firearms.”

Though initial and then regularly recurring safety and proficiency training are unquestionably essential as the President suggested using the word “adept,” it is even more important that volunteers be first properly selected and then prepared to do something that will forever affect their own lives: Before volunteering or being employed, trained, and entrusted with both the duty and authority to use lethal force, they must first be competently assessed to be psychologically prepared to shoot and kill the attacker, even if the attacker is a child.

Before even applying to be an armed volunteer or employee, applicants must self-evaluate.   ” Do I really have the mental preparation and resolve to prevent an attack by shooting and killing an armed attacker before the attacker can attack his or her first victim?”    “What if the armed attacker is someone I know?  Maybe a child, maybe even a child I know?  Can I do it?”

Applicants to be armed volunteers or employees must initially and then regularly be psychologically screened and evaluated to determine if they have the ability to kill a person, maybe a child, who has a weapon. The psychological evaluation must also determine insofar as possible how the volunteer will react after neutralizing a potential attacker.  Will the volunteer be so emotionally distraught that he or she is unable to effectively engage a second or third attacker?

When the idea of armed volunteers in schools is discussed, people often suggest that retired law enforcement and military members from the community would be good choices.

I don’t think so.  At least, not automatically.

If I were a parent, I wouldn’t necessarily want some retired geezer with a gun protecting my child or grandchild.

We geezers retired from law enforcement or the military for a reason.  I retired from the US Secret Service after 23 years and before age 50 because I recognized my reactions were slowing and my eyesight was getting fuzzier.  I did not want the life of someone our agency was protecting or a fellow employee’s life to be dependent on me.

Neither would I want your child or grandchild’s life dependent on me.  Your child or grandchild’s life is no less important than the President’s.

Maybe in the next OpenCdA post I’ll put up my thoughts on how schools can be made safer.


  1. Apparently even active duty police officers are not the best idea, especially if they are eligible for retirement.

    Comment by Tributary — February 23, 2018 @ 10:31 am

  2. Tributary,

    That’s a very valid point, and it’s not too far afield from the one I was making in my OpenCdA post. Just because an officer, deputy, or trooper was mentally and emotionally prepared to do his job when he was hired and trained 20 or 30 years ago, it doesn’t mean he was equally ready on February 14, 2018.

    The Broward Sheriff’s Office may not have taken the School Resource Officer job seriously enough. Its selection criteria for SROs may have overemphasized the public relations/information gathering function of the job and failed to acknowledge that the SRO may have to engage and kill a child who poses an imminent threat of death to other students. Likeability and the ability to gain the trust and confidence of the students may have prevailed over selection of someone more emotionally prepared to use lethal force if required.

    In fairness to former deputy Peterson, I’d like to know a lot more about exactly what he did, when he did it, and why he did it. I think it would be fair to ask what role his airing the shooter’s description/identification and location played in the outcome. We can speculate, as the Sheriff did, that if Peterson had engaged Cruz sooner, lives would have been saved. But another possible outcome is that Cruz would have killed Deputy Peterson before Peterson could air the description/identification and other information about Cruz. Even with what Peterson apparently aired, Cruz was still able to evade responding law enforcement. He was captured some distance away.

    Unfortunately, we have to get our information from very agenda-driven skews media.

    Comment by Bill — February 23, 2018 @ 11:16 am

  3. It also appears that the Broward Sheriff was not entirely forthcoming about who, when and why, given the recent reports that other Broward deputies were present, also failed to enter the building, and that they all ultimately followed officers from a different agency into the building.

    Comment by Tributary — February 26, 2018 @ 5:44 pm

  4. Tributary,

    I hope that the Fiddle-Dee-Dee (FDLE – Florida Department of Law Enforcement) investigation of the BSO will be thorough. Apparently there were policies in place for this type of situation, the deputies were not to enter the building until they made sure their body cameras were on. Except these deputies hadn’t been issued body cameras. It’s up to the command staff to make sure the policies in place have not only been published but have been trained thoroughly and understood. It’s pretty hard to train and enforce usage policy with equipment that hasn’t even been issued yet.

    The overall objective has to be to carefully examine everything that was done or was supposed to have been done to see if it was done and done properly or if things were completely FUBAR. Until the FDLE investigation has been timelined and completed, no one should be making premature recommendations for disciplinary action, policy changes, statutory changes, constitutional amendments, or anything else.

    Sometimes I wish someone would turn a fire hose on the skews media and the elected officials who, at this point, “don’t know shit from shinola.” (An expression my Army basic training drill sergeant used abundantly to describe my grasp of military tactics and training.)

    Comment by Bill — February 26, 2018 @ 8:35 pm

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