Social media, the busy-body spinster of the millennial age, spreads news faster than even my mother used to (but no, I am not calling my departed mother a busy-body spinster!) We used to say the fastest way to get news out was to telephone, telegraph or tell-r-mom! The morning of Nov. 15, we found proof for us locally that one addition to our ‘tela’ list is tela-Facebook! The fiasco involved a report of an active shooter at the federal building in Canton, Ohio. It stemmed apparently from an alarm set off from inside the building and although there was no confirmation of an actual shooter, the massive police response outside had everyone all aghast and panicking on-line. Posts of “my daughter and son-in-law are in there!” and other such private concerns that are immediately blasted on social media for all to see were the order of the day!
Drama driving emotions, which are over the top, act as flames fanned by everyone who desire to get noticed for a few minutes. These are regular Facebook fare. No one stopped to consider the nature of the federal building. Armed federal agents meet anyone entering the building and there stands a state-of-the-art metal detector that you must pass through before going into the court area. If someone gets to someplace like Social Security because you can get there without the body scan, armed private security is standing there as well. It may be possible to get a shooter inside but the amount of damage that could be done is very limited. Rather then bemoaning that the police response is blocking the roads or that neighboring buildings are keeping people inside, the general public should be pleased at the effective response and its speed.
There is another area of our society in which drama drives emotions and, sadly, some who claim to be in the business of protecting others are fanning the flames to make a name for themselves or to make an extra buck. Training for the unlikely event of an active shooter has become the feed of less scrupulous companies or, at least, the unwise. They hunt for schools, churches or other areas where there is a need but those doing the hiring aren’t prepared to properly vet the “trainers”.
The probabilities of your child ever having to face an active shooter are very small. There a few true shooters, regardless of how some sites quantify a ‘school shooter.’ If you think about the number of schools in our county and multiply that by the number of schools in Ohio and those nationally, the number of actual shootings are even smaller. Should we prepare the kids, just in case? Absolutely, just as we do for fires, tornadoes or… back in my day, for nuclear attack!
However, school boards need to vet the people who are coming in to do active shooter training. I personally know of one company whose owner brags to everyone about his combat exploits and highly secretive training with the military even though he was NEVER in the military. He also has stolen from a client he was hired to protect but that, too, got white-washed away to protect the ‘security expert’ who hired him. That guy is now hired to “protect’ an entire school system in a southern Ohio county. That guy, I am afraid, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Recent stories coming to us in the media about the bizarre, if not harmful or even criminally negligent methods being used by “experts” is horrifying. Some examples:
A SURPRISE active shooter drill so no one in the school, no teachers or staff knew it was a drill and here come the bad guys! Let’s terrify the children. Or, the one where the ‘role-player’ made an elementary school child call her mom on the cellphone and tell her good-bye – for real! Then we have the student who was put into a kneeling position for execution and the students had to watch him go through this horrific ‘exercise’! Don’t forget the copious amounts of fake blood pouring from the ‘victims.’ Some of these exercises are being done on small children and I, for one in the field of law enforcement and security training for over 45 years, can tell you this is stuff straight off the stable floor! The companies that pull this kind of garbage should be criminally charged with child endangering. I am completely serious about that. They should lose their licenses, if they even bothered to get one and the school faculty that hired them without previewing what they intended to do should be disciplined accordingly.
What is the key element missing from both these stories, common sense. I have become known for using movie lines in my posts and here fits another one. From the first Men in Black as ‘K’ played by Tommy Lee Jones tells James, later ‘J’ (Will Smith) about the aliens visiting earth and James wants to know why people aren’t just told about it, why was it being kept secret. K replied, “A *person* is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.” I don’t know I would go quite as far as Tommy Lee Jones does, but if you wonder if that could be true, take an hour and read some FB posts and you will know that common sense has left the building. (My posts excepted, of course!)