Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Military Weapons Being Obtained By Public School Districts?

I read an article that initially had me a bit concerned. In fact, I read a second one, from the Wall Street Journal, about the same topic and decided to write about it myself. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing.

It seems that some public school districts in the Unites States are acquiring surplus military equipment through the DOD Excess Property Program, commonly called the 1033 Program. Originally created by Congress in the early 1990s, the 1033 Program was designed to allow surplus military equipment and weapons to be obtained by law enforcement agencies nationwide at no cost, on a permanent loan status from the federal government.

It seems now that school districts are getting in on the goodies. According to the Defense Logistics Agency, at least a dozen school districts have received military supplies and equipment but the list does not include those who received tactical gear only, such as firearms. It is estimated that at least 20 school districts have received military equipment but it is not known how many received firearms. At least one, in Los Angeles, also acquired grenade launchers.

Grenade launchers in our public schools? Really?

It is known that various school districts in Texas, California, Utah, Kansas, Missouri, and Georgia have received military weapons from the 1033 Program.

In Texas, 200 school systems have their own police on campuses. The weapons are intended to be used by these campus PDs in response to an active shooter incident such as Newtown or Columbine. And I'm OK with that. I'm all for armed police response on school campuses if necessary. I'd be OK with arming teachers or simply hiring one, well trained, armed security officer for each school. But I still think the grenade launchers are a bit much.

Pinellas County in Florida has their own school district police department that provides law enforcement presence (called School Resource Officers) in most public schools within the county. The exception is Tarpon Springs School District which is protected by the Tarpon Springs Police Department. According to DLA reports, PCSD has acquired two dozen military weapons for their department.

“Our hope is that our officers never have a need to use this equipment,” the district's public information officer said. “These are items we acquired so they could have equipment for worst-case scenario situations.”

In Salt Lake City, Utah, a school board spokesman said "It would be irresponsible to send our officers into an active shooter situation with just a handgun. Each officer has a rifle, which is kept locked up."

Opponents of the program are going ballistic, calling it everything from unnecessary to "the militarization of our schools," to racist.

Some legal, civil rights, and education advocacy organizations have recently sent a letter to the departments of Defense, Justice and Education asking that the program be discontinued in public schools.

“The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, demonstrate the tensions that invariably develop between local law enforcement and the community when military equipment is unnecessarily deployed against citizens. These events also underscore the negative impact of militarization on the already tenuous relationship between communities of color and law enforcement. Adding the presence of military-grade weapons to school climates that have become increasingly hostile due to their over-reliance on police to handle routine student discipline can only exacerbate existing tensions, intensifying overly punitive atmospheres that criminalize and stigmatize students of color.”

Apparently these advocacy groups believe the weapons and equipment being obtained is for use solely against "people of color." Do they not understand that the mere fact that police presence is necessary in schools today tells us how bad things are getting? Do they not understand that so far the only active school shooter that was not white was the one at Virginia Tech? And he was Asian, not black. Some people apparently have to make everything about race, even to the point of being ridiculous.

The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, demonstrate what happens when mobs are stirred up by outside agitators and are allowed to run unchecked for a period of time due to complaints from liberal whiners. I have no problem whatsoever with police having the best arms and equipment possible. The bad guys don't much care if the police get injured or killed in a situation. And neither do liberals apparently. They were the ones saying that Ferguson police should have addressed the rioters with only batons and helmets because having weapons and an armored vehicle was "just unfair."

After researching this topic a little, my personal opinion is that if school districts want to hire, train and arm their own police forces to deal with school emergencies then they should be able to take advantage of the opportunity to obtain weapons free of charge when possible. Why send them into an active shooter situation with one hand tied behind their backs? And why spend over $1000 apiece on weapons if they can get them for free?

The vast majority of school district police departments will never use that equipment in emergency situations. But having the equipment/weapons isn't wrong, nor is it racist. Police departments need to be well armed for their own safety and to protect the safety of the public. People opposed to that need to understand one thing. When the bad guys have the advantage the bad guys win.

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