By Massad Ayoob
ILEETA, the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, is the leading organization for advanced multi-dimensional training in the spectrum of police service skills. Since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of serving on its advisory board and chairing the Panel of Experts on Firearms and Deadly Force Training at its annual conference. The Panel consists of some of “the best and the brightest” subject matter experts in the field.
For the first couple of hours, they have the floor, and after the break, we open it to discussion with the audience. Knowledge is like a circulatory system; from the heart to the capillaries, we’re all doing the same job. This creates tremendous cross-pollination with the attendees, instructors from Federal, State, County and Municipal agencies from all over the nation and abroad.
Teachers who have taken defensive training feel strongly about the fact they can now confront a threat
to save “their” kids. This sort of one-on-one, hands-on experience can be empowering — and saves lives.
School Resource Officers
The Panel discusses currently hot topics, and we opened in March of 2018 with something leaving a bad taste in the collective mouth of law enforcement since Valentine’s Day — the deputy who stood outside the high school in Parkland, Florida while a mass murder was going on inside. While there was a general reluctance to condemn the involved officer until his side of the story had been more fully explored, there was universal condemnation of the “wait outside” thing. With us on the panel was Ron Borsch, once cursed as a radical for being the first authoritative voice to suggest entry by the first responding officer — alone — in these cases. Ron has lived long enough for his prescient vision to be vindicated.
Some of the attendees mentioned the cops volunteering for SRO (School Resource Officers) tended to be the less aggressive of those in the personnel pool. But there were many there who had found the opposite. One such would be in the spotlight the next day. At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old opened fire with a pistol and the SRO literally ran to the sound of the gun. St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Deputy Blaine Gaskill confronted the gunman, who shot himself at the same moment the officer shot him. The casualty toll was limited to only two teen victims shot, one mortally, and the perpetrator dead.
A motivated bank of trained, armed teachers in schools offers a wall against murdering thugs.
Once word is out teachers at any school “may” be armed, many officers feel it’s a strong deterrent.
The next discussion point was whether the panel, and the attendees, were comfortable with the idea of trained volunteer school faculty members being discreetly armed with concealed weapons. They might act as on-the-scene first responders to roadblock mass murderers. With a dozen or more recognized experts on the panel and 10 times that many police instructors in the audience, all but three raised their hands in approval of the concept. I didn’t see any of the three hold-outs return from break to defend their position against armed teachers.
We were fortunate enough to have many instructors on the panel who have taught armed faculty and assessed their performance in training. Among them were Chris and Michelle Cerino, who may have been the most experienced in this area due to their long and successful work with the FASTER program created by John Benner at the Tactical Defense Institute in Ohio.
I asked everyone in the room if they were aware of a mass shooting at a school which had let it be known that certain faculty members were armed and trained. No one knew of such a case. Hmmm — deterrent effect, maybe?
As this issue was discussed, again and again we heard from officers who had been told by teachers, “I’d rather take a bullet and die for my students than kill someone.” The group was reduced to head-shaking shock at this. If a teacher doesn’t realize after they sacrifice themselves for their political correctness and virtue signaling, their unobstructed killer is then going to murder the children in the room anyway, one wonders whether they should be in charge of instilling critical thinking and value judgment in America’s young.
Fortunately, our police think with a lot more logic and reason.
At the end of the police response discussion, one attending instructor said his department still mandates waiting for backup before making entry. A young instructor in the front row answered with some emotion, “F–k it, I’m going in!”
This may not be the best way to explain it to the Chief or the Mayor, but he pretty much spoke for us all.
ILEETA is open to anyone who teaches police, and covers a broad range of general and specialized law enforcement training elements.