The FBI is the very best at what they do. The problem is that school safety is not something they do as a part of their core mission.
FBI agents are not school safety experts. In fact, federal agents don’t regularly work with juveniles. They deal with adult criminals. They typically defer those few juveniles they do encounter to local law enforcement to investigate and pursue prosecution in state, not federal, courts.
Yet as the school shooting unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, leaving 17 dead, I watched numerous ex-FBI agents on cable news giving analysis and advice on school shootings and school safety. Some of it was on police tactical response, which is within their area of expertise.
But many gave advice that was much more questionable. One ex-agent after another parroted the “run, hide, fight” federal buzz-phrase as the best course of action to teach in schools. Ironically, they did so even when kids were running — self-evacuating, as I call it — right into oncoming first responders and possibly even into the crosshairs of the gunman, who in this case tried to blend in with them during his escape.
The most damning disclosure, though, came two days after the shooting when the FBI put out a press release indicating that they had failed to follow their protocols by not following up on a tip reported to them on January 8, 2018, about the school shooter responsible for 17 deaths at Douglas High School. In fact, in their mea culpa the FBI stated the tipster, “…provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the federal mantra has been, “If you see something, say something.” It now needs to be modified to, “If you see something, say something — AND THEN DO SOMETHING.”
Let me say again that the FBI is the very best at what they do. School safety is just not what they do. Local educators, law enforcement, and school security experts do, however, understand kids, schools, and school safety. Let them take the lead.
It’s time that our elected officials and public leaders listen to those who actually know school safety. In the case of Douglas High School, the adults can also start by listening to the kids. They’re begging that when America’s adults see something and say something, the adults also actually also do something.
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