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FRESH TALK

Opinion: Time For Armed Police In Every School

By CAMILLO FERRARI | FRESH TALK

The Hartford Courant

7:00 PM EST, December 18, 2012

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After the unthinkable events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Friday, I found myself in tears and asking, how can something like this be prevented from happening again?

The sad and scary conclusion I came to is that it can't. I then began wondering how the damage of a horrible act such as this can be minimized when evil and violence show their face in our nation's schools. The only way I can think of to protect our nation's children and educators is for every school district to place an armed police officer in each and every school.

Many major public institutions in this country have armed guards or police officers present in them. Courthouses, hospitals, airports, even now movie theaters, all have trained, armed guards or police officers protecting those who work at or visit these establishments. So why would we not protect one of the most precious assets this country has, its children?

My mother, a school psychologist at a Connecticut elementary school, tried telling me that armed officers or guards will never find their way into schools. But why not?

After the shooting at Sandy Hook, how can we as a state and nation not at least entertain the idea of having armed officers in our schools? My mother went on to say the presence of armed police officers would only frighten children and possibly cause unnecessary anxiety, especially in elementary-age children. But if you ask me, nothing could possibly be more frightening than the idea of a gunman roaming through a school at will, knowing there would be nobody there to stop him.

Armed police officers in every school might not deter an individual who is hellbent on causing harm to others, but the officers would be able to respond instantly and could certainly help save precious lives.

I am aware that there are procedures and protocols in place to help protect students and staff. They range from check-in procedures to locking school entrances. In the event that a gunman should gain entry to a school, there are also lock-down procedures in which students and staff are drilled and trained in advance.

However, it is evident, after the events in Newtown, that no procedure or protocol could possibly stop an individual or individuals from causing harm in a school if they are intent on doing so. The only way to minimize the potential harm to students and staff would be to have an armed police officer ready to respond to any threat. There is no excuse for not considering this as a necessary change in school security policies.

When someone has a gun or any other weapon, it does not matter how many checks or procedures you have. The only way to end the threat of deadly force is with returned deadly force.

If armed officers will take three or four minutes to respond to a crisis (after receiving an emergency call, which could take additional, precious minutes to make), then there is no reason for not having an armed officer there already. The armed officer can immediately send an emergency call to his dispatcher, request back-up and attempt to end the threat the second it begins.

It should be a no-brainer to make this decision to protect our nation's children and educators. If it becomes a question of manpower or budget, then I would be appalled that anyone could put a price on the safety of our nation's schools. Unfortunately, it is clear that an event such as the one in Newtown is a matter of when, not if.

When responding to a school shooting, every minute counts. The next time something like this takes place, I hope there will be an armed officer working inside the school, ready to put a stop to the violence.

Camillo Ferrari, 24, of Norwalk is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in criminal justice at Western Connecticut State University.

The Courant invites writers younger than 30 to write essays of 650 words or less containing strong views. Please email your submission to freshtalk@courant.com, with your full name, hometown, daytime phone number, age and occupation (or your school's name and your level in school). You can also fax op-eds to 860-520-6941.