Gunman at TN School: Do You Want Police or a Climate Survey?

Posted by on August 31, 2010

A 62-year-old gunman pointed a .380 semi-automatic gun in a Tennessee Principal’s face yesterday. The School Resource Officer (SRO) drew her gun and shielded the Principal’s body with her own. 

The principal, Melanie Riden, was able to flee the area. The SRO, Sheriff’s Deputy Carolyn Gudger, lured the gunman into the  empty high school cafeteria — a more contained location.  Minutes later, additional officers arrived.  The male pointed his gun at the officers.  They shot and killed him.

Read the full story:  Gunman killed at Sullivan Central (High School in Blountville, TN).

Just yesterday, I wrote about SROs being mischaracterized in an article entitled, “America’s real school-safety problem.”  I challenged the positions put forth by academician Aaron Kupchick, who espoused what I consider to be an anti-police/anti-SRO/anti-school security message.  Kupchick wrote a recent book entitled, “Homeroom Security: School Discipline in an Age of Fear,” which is critical of SROs and other school security measures.

I have also written recently about, “Education Department Redefines School Safety, Downplays Violence,” where the U.S. Department of Education has redefined school safety to push “violence” to the back burner as the Department goes on overkill with bullying, school climate, “incivil” behavior, and climate surveys.

Principal Melanie Riden didn’t need a climate survey when a man pointed a gun at her face at Sullivan Central High School in Blountville, TN.  She and her kids needed their School Resource Officer.  And that police officer, Deputy Carolyn Gudger, was there for them, risked her life for them, and most likely saved some lives in the process.

Educators and students cannot afford to allow Ivory Tower academicians and D.C. politicians to skew the definition of school safety, or to skew federal policy and funding for school safety.

School safety must include conversations on, and resources to deal with, violence.  SROs, school police, and school security cannot be summarily dismissed.   And we should not apologize for wanting and/or having them in our schools

They didn’t need a climate survey, anti-bullying program, or lecture on “incivility” yesterday morning at Sullivan Central High School.  They needed a cop.  And thank God there was one right there in the school when the need struck so quickly.

Ken Trump

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4 thoughts on “Gunman at TN School: Do You Want Police or a Climate Survey?

  1. Mark Kissel says:

    You are right on point with this one! Anyone with common sense has to question USDOE’s desire to move away from the school police/SRO model at a time when the Feds continue to publish articles, videos and training on how to prepare, mitigate and respond to a terrorist attack. Lets be realistic, those who enter a school to do harm strike “terror” in the school and community — seems easy to understand that person is a “terrorist.” Wonder what kind of data you would get from a post-incident “climate” survey of parents, staff and students at this school? Sound tactical training of Deputy Gudger paid big dividends in this incident, lets hope common sense prevails with local school districts.

    1. Ken Trump says:

      Thanks, Mark. As I mentioned in response to another post, we go from one extreme to the other at the federal level when it comes to school safety. They done some things well, in particular REMS and Safe Schools/Healthy Students. So what did they do? Fund it at lower levels in recent years than what they did at the peak of those programs. They’ve done other things poorly: Management of the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program formula grant, which they oversaw for decades, only to claim when it was terminated by the current Administration and Congress that it wasn’t effective anyway. Well, if it wasn’t working properly, who managed it all that time? Yet today they all talk about “accountability”? Give me a break. Then there was the “persistently dangerous schools” fiasco, which they first openly supported when a few of us said it would be ineffective and contribute to underreporting of school crime. Finally, a year or two ago they saw the winds strongly blowing in an anti-persistently dangrous schools direction and they jumped on the bandwagon. And now, they’re making a radical shift in policy and funding to another extreme. Unreal!

  2. Derek Randel says:

    Sitting around a campfire singing songs will not stop school violence. SRO’s are needed in all schools and they must be armed. Excellent job by the officers and another excellent post.

    1. Ken Trump says:

      Thanks, Derek. We seem to go from one extreme to the other in this country, especially at the federal level. ED has always struggled with its management of school safety policy and funding, ranging from letting Safe and Drug Free Schools bleed a slow death to the creation of the “Persistently Dangerous Schools” label fiasco. Now, we have a radical shift in policy and funding to another extreme where they actually openly say they have arbitrarily refined school safety by taking the focus off of violence. Only the federal government could redfine “school safety” by pushing “violence” out of focus and to the back burner as a footnote (at best). Keep fighting the good fight. Ken

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