Sheriff's Office: School safety and your Sheriff’s Office
by Jim Ruth Bradley County Sheriff
Dec 30, 2012 | 1705 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I appreciate the many comments I have seen concerning our school resource officers. It is apparent they are appreciated by teachers, parents and children alike. Certainly, we have been made aware once again of the dangerous people in our midst by the school shooting in Connecticut.

The response in the media is the same response that is made to each tragedy. The national media hypes it up and sensationalizes the whole thing. In the eyes of this kind of beastly, low-life killer it makes them a celebrity. We then continue to have copycat killings, so that a very mentally twisted nobody can think of himself as a sick cult hero. Many others use such tragedies to gain attention for themselves.

Then, there are always the politicians that come out of the woodwork to get a little piece of the pie, so to speak, of the media circus related to the tragedy. They tell what needs to be done to right the wrong.

People who are for strict gun control have a new platform from which to beat their political drum. It is like they care more about exploiting a tragedy for their own cause than really helping the survivors.

It is very sad that a tragedy such as this soon ceases to be in the headlines and the victims’ families are left with a lifetime of heartache. Then, all that politicians can think of is to punish all the law-abiding citizens with strict gun control through gun bans, waiting lists, and restrictions on ammunition, etc. (More comment of that later).

Well, Timothy McVeigh didn’t need a gun to kill all those children and adults in Oklahoma City. He used materials that were readily available. Certainly, the terrorists on 9/11 did not need a gun to kill thousands. Very often we hear about some suicide bomber using materials other than a gun to kill himself and others.

The media makes sure we hear about all this.

But, you seldom hear in the news about the law-abiding citizen who legally owns and carries a gun that has had to defend himself or others from being seriously injured or killed. It happens regularly.

Can we do more to save lives throughout the country? Sure we can, but in the obvious ways to do so most cities and counties cannot afford it, or are unwilling to pay the high cost. Neither is the federal government. Some of these ways are having SROs, or more of them, more officers on duty, longer incarcerations and effective use of the death penalty.

Locally, we continue to review the security needs of our schools. We are open to any improvements and in adjusting our tactics, if need be. We will take any measure we can take. Obviously, it would be foolish to divulge details related to security.

Our experienced deputies become acquainted with vehicles and people who live in their patrol zones. Our school resource officers gain the confidence of parents, teachers, students and staff of the schools that they serve. The longer they are at the school the more sensitive they become to all of the comings and goings at their assigned schools. Their supervisors become aware, also, of the strengths and weaknesses of school security.

School security is an ongoing concern at the Sheriffs Office. Although we have put our SROs through some specialized training, school security will remain a work in progress. We will use other deputies to include the schools in their areas in their patrol efforts, as well.

Yet, much greater law-enforcement presence in our schools is dependent upon the funding of the County Commission. You the taxpayers are the ones who give them permission (or the power) to allocate funds for a greater law-enforcement presence. As our population increases this becomes an even greater problem.

As sheriff, I am committed to doing whatever is necessary to keep our children safe. We will not have a knee-jerk, emotional reaction, but continue with a calculated, judicious plan to get the job done.

Information shared with our SRO’s and other deputies is always appreciated. As we are informed of the activities of people who live on the fringe, it helps in building an intelligence base as we work to prevent crime. Information, including rumors and gossip, has helped discerning deputies to solve crimes and improve his/her crime-fighting capability.

I think many of you know that I have taught the Tennessee Handgun Permit program since it became law in 1991. If you are aware of that you, also, know that I support the 2nd Amendment and the right for law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. It is for certain that the handgun permit program has worked well and has not resulted in abuses.

It would make more sense to me to allow adequately trained, select teachers and ex-law-enforcement people in schools with permits to go armed, or at least have access to a handgun. That would be better than banning guns. Generally, all that does is raise prices of guns and ammo and make it harder for law-abiding citizens, even officers, to purchase them. Criminals will steal them or use knives or other weapons, as some have done before.

We, certainly, can’t ban all the other things that can be used as weapons.

You may have noticed that the death penalty for McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing has been effective in stopping such domestic terrorism. Also, churches have beefed up security and some have members that have gone through reserve programs to become reserve deputies. Since then there has been no church shootings that I am aware of. These are some things for us to think about.

Thanks for reading.