Friday, September 29, 2006

Tragedy Could Have Been Averted

Emily Keyes, age 16, died senselessly at her high school in Bailey, CO. A homeless man, Dwayne Morrison, age 54, walked into the school with at least two weapons, went to a classroom and took the students hostage. After releasing the all the hostages except for two girls, Morrison refused to negotiate with the law enforcement officers who had arrived, except to demand he be left alone. When he decided to stop talking, the swat teams stormed the room, whereupon Morrison shot Emily, then shot himself.
This guy should not have gotten as far as he did. Granted, he was, according to reports, wearing a hoodie in an attempt to blend in with the students, but many of the students who saw him reported that he looked like an "old man." Furthermore, Bailey is a small town, where everybody knows everybody, and Morrison was definitely known. In fact, everybody reportedly knew him as a "weirdo."
So, how did he get to the second floor classroom? My high school, in 1970 required visitors to wear a pass clearly visible on the clothing. This practice should still be in effect in all public schools across the nation. Even as Morrison sneaked into the school, somebody should have realized he didn't belong there.
If school districts cannot afford security systems in their schools, therein lies the problem. They apparently can afford to pay district administrators salaries of $80,000 and up, and provide other services, such as transportation in particular, which could be privatized, but they cannot afford security guards at the school entrances.
Certainly, there will be investigations, but you can't fix something that has already happened. In this case, to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future, it would be prudent to establish a security system that is both practical, and that works. Metal detectors have not proven practical, as there are usually metal objects required for every student, and the ACLU opposes that kind of security. All that is really needed is a few security guards, and identification badges to be worn visibly on the clothing of all students, teachers, and staff.
Nothing will bring back the beautiful little girl, Emily Keyes. Her death wasn't only a tragedy, it was an atrocity. Communities throughout the United States need to act for prevention, not react to cause after the fact, to prevent such tragedies as Bailey from happening again.

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