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Armed guards in our schools is a BAD idea. This idea should be taken off the table immediately. We must not let fear drive us to arms. If we do, the Newtown gunman wins, and the children lose. In a recent letter to Greenwich Board of Education Chairman, Leslie Moriarty, and Greenwich Superintendent of Schools, Dr. William McKersie, Greenwich Selectman Drew Marzullo gives good reasons to oppose armed guards in schools. I reproduce his letter here.

Dear Chairman Moriarty and Dr. McKersie,

I am writing to you to strongly voice my opposition to having armed guards in schools . While we can all agree that now is the time for a serious review of school safety, a needlessly reactionary response to a horrific crime does not make our town or our schoolchildren any safer. Instead, we should examine the current areas of weakness in our school safety plans, and use protocols, empirical evidence, and common sense to address those security gaps.
Floating the idea of armed security guards in Greenwich schools should be taken off the table now, and should not  be part of the discourse that follows from the Sandy Hook tragedy. This should not be a public policy debate.
There are myriad reasons to oppose this idea, but I will name several of the most concerning:
•Children need to feel safer in school. It is our job, as town government officials, to provide them with that security. However, introducing guns into their buildings, especially in the hands of non-law enforcement professionals, is essentially creating more opportunities for violence. What happens if there is a school shooting, and the armed guard is in the ladies room? At lunch? On the other side of campus? While the chances of him or her preventing a mass shooting are infinitesimally slim, the odds of a child accidentally (or purposefully) accessing said guard’s weapon are much greater.
•Where do we stop? Would only the public schools get armed guards? Private schools? Day care centers? The YWCA nursery? The reality is, a mass shooter can strike at any of these institutions. Why would one be “protected” over another?
•If a thorough review of Greenwich school safety issues uncovers a need for some type of increased protection, trained law enforcement officers should be our first line of defense. To that end, there are many creative ways to increase security without compromising a child’s learning environment and that keep costs low. One such suggestion, made by a Greenwich firefighter, was to instruct GPD officers to write their daily reports while parked in front of one of the schools in their patrol zone. This gives a police presence, throughout the day, that is cost-free and unobtrusive. Rather than the false sense of security that an armed guard would provide, more dialogue is needed to come up with innovative strategies that don’t create a police state in our schools.
•Finally, there needs to be a new initiative between Greenwich teachers, guidance counselors, house masters, school psychologists, and police to establish a screening process or safety net for students who may be at a higher risk of committing violence. This is not an attempt at profiling mass shooters. Rather, this would be an early intervention program to identify those students who may be a danger to themselves or others. Rather than armed guards, a serious examination of our counseling, bullying and mental health services may be a more fruitful (and certainly less extreme) use of our time and money.
I am ready and willing to commit to an examination of our current school safety policies and do everything in my power to assist the Board of Education with any safety measures that will enhance our schools. Armed guards, however, are not now, and never will be, the answer.
Selectman Drew Marzullo
Categories: General

7 Responses

  1. Nick099 says:

    It’s idiotic thinking like this that gets folks killed. With no law enforcement/Security experience you opine blindly to appeal to those even more ignorant than yourself using emotional tag lines. No armed guards in schools means you had better expect more barbarism like Newtown.

  2. •If a thorough review of Greenwich school safety issues uncovers a need for some type of increased protection, bullying and mental health services may be a more fruitful (and certainly less extreme) use of our time and money.

  3. Martin says:

    While I can certainly understand your position on the armed guards in schools, I respectfully disagree with your opinion, and here’s why:

    Given the recent rash of school related shootings in the US, I would much rather have an armed security guide at my children’s school versus no armed people at all. While I would certainly prefer a trained law enforcement professional over armed security guards, I’d rather have at least some armed person there to deal with an armed intruder a the school versus no one at all.

    Even though I’m an ex-law enforcement officer with 14+ years of experience, I’d still prefer someone armed.

    Even with all the precautions and active shooter plans that schools have in place, unarmed school personnel simply are not prepared to deal with an armed shooter.

    I understand that this is a touchy subject, but that’s my opinion.

  4. I am working on a blog for the patch called “You can’t fix stupid” your comments gave me another paragraph to write. You see, Alma, the shooter has already won. He accomplished everything he wanted to do. The children will lose if people like yourself don’t protect them. Perhaps you really can’t fix stupid.

  5. Greenwich Enforcer says:

    My plan would arm the principals and custodians. They are the men who run the schools.

  6. ZhuLi says:

    My school in China had guards, and a controlled front entrance. I don’t know how having a guard (with or without a gun) makes it less or more of a learning environment. The other criticisms might be justified, but opposing guards because you don’t like the way it makes you feel I think shows you don’t have any experience with them. Millions of Chinese children attend school with guards, if anything, they are friendly and helpful.

  7. John Guillet Jr says:

    There are 3 kinds of people in the world
    1 the sheep
    2 the wolves
    3 the sheep dogs.
    The sheep go through their life totally unaware, or depending on others to take care of them. The wolves watch for opportunity to kill, rape, rob or otherwise victimize the sheep. The sheep dogs, Police, military and armed citizens that refuse to be helpless victims, stand guard over the sheep and try to keep the wolves at bay.

    The wolves will use whatever weapons are available to them, be it guns , knives, clubs, rocks, or just sheer force of numbers. The sheepdogs cannot be everywhere at all times. They will by their very nature ignore the laws and go after the sheep. The sheep need to be more aware, and not make it easy for the wolves to eat them. Laws passed to disarm the wolves will be ignored by the wolves. They will only serve to handicap the sheep dogs.

    Just food for thought.