Today's Paper Newsletters LEARNS Guide Fish Story Contest 🎣 Asa Hutchinson 2024 Today's Photos Public Notices Digital FAQ Razorback Sports Puzzles Crime Distribution Locations Obits

EDITORIAL: A dear school

When cops are absent March 25, 2023 at 2:50 a.m.

E xperience keeps a dear school, it's said, but some will learn in no other. Americans learned that lesson again this past week.

A 17-year-old student shot and wounded two administrators at his high school in Denver. They were searching him for weapons when he pulled one. (The papers say because of the boy's behavior, a weapons search was a daily requirement for him to enter the school.)

After he wounded the two adults, he took off to the mountains. His body was found next to his car. He apparently shot himself.

This wasn't the first act of violence at the school this year. The AP said the school has been shaken "by frequent lockdowns and violence, including the killing of a classmate that prompted East High School students to march on the Colorado Capitol earlier this month."

Also from the AP story: "Amid the flurry of criticism over lax security, Denver school officials said after the shooting that they would once again put armed officers into the city's public high schools."

Um, what?

Once again? As in, there haven't been armed officers in the city's public high schools before this week?

"In June 2020, amid a summer of protests over racial injustice after the murder of George Floyd, Denver Public Schools became one of the districts around the U.S. that decided to phase out its use of police officers in school buildings. That push was fueled by criticism that school resource officers disproportionately arrested Black students, sweeping them into the criminal justice system. After Wednesday's shooting, two armed officers will be posted at East High School through the end of the school year, and other city high schools also will each get an officer, said Denver Public Schools Superintendent Alex Marrero."

So they defunded the police in 2020. Or at least defunded school police. How unfortunate. But not unexpected.

T he best way to prevent shootings at school, and most other forms of violence, is to make schools "hard targets." That includes police and fencing and locked doors and cameras and more police.

When these school shootings first started in the 1990s, we remember writing editorials about the need to "harden" the schools in this way. We were deluged with letters to the editor complaining about our stand: You want to turn schools into prisons! School campuses should be welcoming and open! Police on campus? Armed police? What kind of monster are you?

Fast-forward a quarter of a century, and those letters have dried up. Imagine if you were able to walk onto your child's campus and nobody challenged you or asked for ID. If no cop wandered the parking lot or the hallways. And you were able to walk into your child's classroom unseen, and with ease. You'd likely have the superintendent on the phone in a matter of minutes with your complaint. And your disbelief.

Every time we have this discussion, we note that this question has never been answered sufficiently by our opponents: If having armed police on campus on Friday nights during football games is a good idea, and it is, then how come it's not a good idea to have them on campus on Tuesday mornings, during math class?

T he story never seems to change: Remove police from the situation, crime goes up, danger goes up. It's almost a law of nature. Remember the police-free CHOP zone in Seattle? And its various copycats?

The nation has a fever just now with protests, unease and outcries over crimes committed by police. Like most fevers, this one can do some good. Fevers occur to burn off infections or kill destructive bugs in the system. The protests--and the necessity to hold cops to the standards they swore to uphold--draw attention to abuses that must end. It might not be pleasant, but fevers never are.

But fevers can also make us delirious. We the People don't need to become irrational and disconnected as we fight this infection. Police are an overwhelmingly overall good, especially when they are in the schools.

Besides, police in the schools can be the only time some children see police in a positive light. In fact, all the interactions we've had with these Resource Officers show them to be mainly kid-friendly. They know many of the students by name, especially any students who may be--another euphemism here--challenging.

(And one would think that any bad cop at school would find himself on social media in a heartbeat. We suspect there are more smartphones per capita on American school campuses than anywhere else.)

Nobody should pay for the sins of others--not police, not anybody. But if all police are banned from the campuses of public schools, the cops wouldn't be the ones paying the price. For yet more proof, see Denver this week.

Print Headline: A dear school


Sponsor Content