Elizabeth Rawlings: Put armed officers in schools | SteamboatToday.com

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Elizabeth Rawlings: Put armed officers in schools

I have a shocking suggestion. I'm not sure if I am the first to suggest this, but I am sure it is important. We should have armed police officers in each of our schools.

Yes, I can already hear the arguments: Steamboat Springs is a safe town for children! We don't have psychopaths here! Armed guards will scare the children! We don't have the money! It's extremist thinking!

OK, possibly all of these things are true, but what if they're wrong? Newtown, Conn., Aurora and Columbine High School in Littleton were supposed to be safe towns, as well. How can we know if have a local psychopath? We have petty crimes, robberies, sex offenders, psychotropic drug users, rapes and murders. What makes us immune to a mass murderer?

As for scaring the children, we teach our kids that police are here to help them, right? In this age of violent media, I would think that a protective, responsible armed guard would be seen as a hero/heroine.

We didn't have the funds for many of our schools' upgrades, such as the new building and athletic field at the high school and the new building and playground at Soda Creek Elementary School. Yet, somehow, we made these things happen. Isn't safeguarding our kids a worthy expenditure also?

Along with their education, safety should be our biggest priority for our students. We have been protecting them since infancy and before, and we should be just as vigilant now. Perhaps an armed guard never will be called into action, and we would be grateful if that were true. Perhaps the presence of a police officer will deter a copycat killer from targeting our schools. If not, then the officer could minimize the impact of a deadly situation greatly.

By nature, I am a peaceful person, but when it comes to my children, I am a mama bear ready to defend them with my life. Our kids hear about tragedies such as Newtown and worry about their own safety. How do we answer their fears? They, and the schools' staff, should see their community doing everything it can to keep them safe. Let's start the dialogue.

Elizabeth Rawlings

Steamboat Springs