The SLPA supports this logical thinking.
Michael Tuttle, President Local 75, AFL-CIO
International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Rich Roberts, P.I.O. Phone: 941-487-2560 Ext.111
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 941-586-3658
Police Union Cautions Policy Makers on Newtown Shooting Response
The International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO has issued a policy paper cautioning the myriad number of people making suggestions and recommendations in the wake of the Newtown school shootings to avoid a counterproductive emphasis on gun control in favor of more effective measures.
The union, which represents rank and file police officers throughout the country warned that what they referred to as the growing and rancorous and debate over gun control will distract from more immediate and practical actions. The report states clearly, “We need be wary of ‘simple’ solutions to such events and the ‘bumper sticker’ rhetoric so pervasive on both sides.”
They warned decision makers that, “It is time for a meaningful, thoughtful dialog to take place that addresses all of the circumstances that led to and tragically resulted in the blood bath we witnessed and continue to grieve in Newtown, Connecticut.”
Citing numerous mass shootings in past years both domestic and foreign, they stated that gun controls have not been effective in the past nor are likely to be in the immediate future. “More laws restricting firearms or the sale of certain classes of those weapons will make some of the politicians feel better and give a segment of the public the notion that they are safer, but those weapons and their high capacity magazines are already in the hands of people. Even if those weapons were unavailable, anyone with a standard magazine and average dexterity can eject an expended magazine and reload another one in about two seconds,” the report states.
They recommended that closer attention be paid to the growing phonomenon of violent media programs ranging from videos to computer games. The report agrees with Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a leading national expert on responding to critical incidents who has cited statements by the American Medical Association (AMA), American Psychological Association (APA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) who have all taken the position that violent media has a negative influence on young people. According to the police union, “We know we have raised a generation of young people who have access to graphic computer games, where points are generated through the realistic and graphic murder of the gamer’s enemies.” The union agrees that mental health programs should be given far greater consideration as part of a longer term solution.
The union’s near term recommendations to provide a more secure physical environment are also consistent with Lt. Col. Grossman’s recommendations. The report states, “We have made our schools virtually fireproof: they are constructed of fire retardant materials; there are fire alarms and extinguishers throughout the facilities; fire drills are routine. There have not been fire deaths in our schools in anyone’s memory. In our denial, we have not been so aggressive in addressing our concerns with the greater urgency presented by violence in these institutions.”
Working from that premise, the paper called for schools to develop better entrance controls, more solid lockdown facilities, and practice regular lockdown drills designed to get students
to these safe havens quickly and safely. They also called for restricting cell phones among students so that emergency responders can arrive and deploy before the streets are choked with parents responding to frantic calls from their children. All of this could be accomplished by having school administrators work with their local law enforcement professionals to devise these emergency response plans and train their employees to react appropriately and spontaneously during these emergencies.
Reacting to calls to arm school personnel, the police union warned that, “. . . attempting to provide what promises to be extremely limited training and then arming civilian employees will endanger both those armed personnel as well as the children we are committed to protecting.”
The report cites a 1970 practice when schools in California hired off duty police officers who qualified for state teaching credentials, to teach civics classes at inner city schools. The program not only improved security at the institutions, but gave troubled students an opportunity to interact with a law enforcement officer in a learning environment. The program was considered a community relations and school security success. In describing that experience the report states, “We believe that nothing short of hardening the buildings and providing law enforcement trained School Resource Officers, who will become an integral part of the school’s personnel, will suffice.”
Tactical firearms skills require far more intensive training than any civilian organizations are capable of providing. One example came from Utah where a firearms organization offered six hours of training to volunteers. Reports claim that more than 200 people volunteered. Such training could not possibly prepare the individuals to engage in a fire fight with a determined opponent without collateral damage to innocent children as well as faculty. Instead, the report emphasizes the need for highly trained, sworn law enforcement officers known as School Resource Officers, be provided as in the California experience.
In conclusion, the report reiterates its warning, “We do not have the answers, but we remain cautious about knee jerk legislation that is neither preventative nor helpful. These exercises may give rise to a false sense of security and replace the critical dialog between all experts in search of significant and meaningful steps that can be taken to help prevent another killing of our most precious people – our children.”
NOTE: Originally chartered in 1979, the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO is the only AFL-CIO chartered labor union that exclusively represents law enforcement officers and other support personnel. An estimated 100,000 law enforcement personnel (one out of every four eligible) represented by the I.U.P.A. are all full time employees of law enforcement agencies ranging from line officers up to first line supervisors as well as civilian employees. The I.U.P.A.’s mission is to protect and advance officers’ wages, benefits and work conditions. Membership includes officers from agencies throughout the United States and in the Caribbean. More information is available at www.iupa.org.