School safety review is timely

February 6, 2013 

The Wake County school board security staff recommended placing an unarmed guard at all 105 elementary schools in the county, which frankly seemed reasonable in the wake of the December tragedy in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six adults died at the hands of deranged gunman.

Unfortunately, the well-meaning suggestion got some blowback, from people who thought it wasn’t necessary and people who thought the guards should be armed if the country was going to have them. Now the school board has done the right thing: Sheriff Donnie Harrison and Al White, a retired Raleigh police captain, will lead a task force to review school safety and presumably make some recommendations.

The presence of armed guards still seems excessive and certainly it would be expensive. But this group should be able to come up with several alternatives to make schools for the little ones safe, which they of course must be. Part of the solution might be an unarmed guard, or universal and refined lockdown procedures or borrowing ideas from other school systems. It’s appropriate that law officers are leading the way, but civilian input is also important.

Newtown, which horrified the nation, has school systems around the country studying security procedures, and prompted an unfortunate call from the National Rifle Association for armed guards at all schools, the NRA prefering to talk about anything except more restrictive laws on guns. Thankfully, the focus of the discussion in Wake County will be a measured and balanced one.

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