Education, Exclusives, Larimer County, Local

Carno: We need armed defenders in our schools

The Poudre School District in Larimer County surveyed its parents, students, and staff about whether they want School Resource Officers (SROs) on K-12 campuses in the district. Those people want SROs. The School Board voted 6-1 in favor of keeping the armed, uniformed, law enforcement members on their campuses. So far, so good.

Poudre School District also has a Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC), which it asked to undertake a thorough review of the policy of having SROs on the campuses. The CAC recommended removing SROs from the campus grounds, in favor of having law enforcement, “patrol the immediate community around each building without stepping foot inside, aside from unique circumstances and emergencies.”

To be clear, the school board wants SROs on campus, the parents and students want the SROs on campus, but an unelected committee is recommending that SROs be removed from school property.

The first question parents must ask is this: Whose opinion should have more weight when considering the safety of their children? The parents of those children, or an unelected commission?

There are a couple of major problems with removing SROs from K-12 Campuses.

First, school violence continues to happen. The presence of an armed defender on campus can stop the violence more quickly, as opposed to waiting for law enforcement response from outside campus. We need only to look at the killing of Claire Davis at Arapahoe High School. The killer took his own life when it was clear that the SRO was on the way. His presence significantly reduced the carnage that the murderer was prepared to inflict. It was a terrible tragedy for the family and friends of Claire Davis. But how many other families were spared the loss of their loved ones due to the quick response of the SRO?

Second, if Poudre School District removes its SROs from being on the campus grounds, it is telegraphing to the public that there will be no armed response if the worst-case scenario happens. What message does that send to a disturbed student who intends to perpetrate a murderous rampage? There is significant concern about an escalation of violence as schools open more fully. Students who have been out of school, isolated, and unable to be seen for treatment of mental illness are back in school. Their friends, teachers, counselors, and other school staff have not been able to see the warning signs when students were kept from their social circles through the government-mandated shutdowns. If the next rampage killer has the choice between a campus that is known to have armed resistance —whether that is an SRO or a well-trained armed school staffer— and a campus where he is nearly guaranteed not to have armed resistance, which one will he choose?

What is the next step, and what can parents with children in the Poudre School District do?

At the May 11th meeting of the Poudre School Board Directors, the board is scheduled to “further review  the findings” of the CAC report. Parents, grandparents, community members, and anyone else who votes for school board members in the Poudre School District should contact the directors and let them know your opinion about the conclusions of the CAC report. Their contact information can be found here, as well as an interactive map to determine which of the directors represents your part of the district.

As Liberty Common Charter School includes in its philosophy, “It is the right and responsibility of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children.” I agree. This means that you are effectively hiring a school district to teach your children, and to return them safely to you every day. You have the power to tell the district just how you would like them kept safe.

Laura Carno is the Executive Director of FASTER Colorado, and organization that trains armed school staff. She is also a Senior Fellow with Independent Women’s Forum.

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