The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 23, 2012

Schools, police might be ready. Are we?


Daily Item

---- — An incredibly irresponsible and ill-timed threat reportedly by one person in Snyder County brought instant response from more than two dozen police officers Thursday and rippled through the Shikellamy school community as Priestley Elementary went into lockdown.

Both the wildly inappropriate statement and the impressively rapid coordinated response certainly reflect the context of recent events.

In a time when the entire nation shares the grief and horror that remains a week after the mass shooting at a Connecticut, the police response was immediate and appropriate. Roads were closed. Schools were locked down. The suspect was quickly apprehended. The school district notified parents by phone about the threat and posted an alert on the district website.

Until the all clear was given, school officials encouraged students to stay away from windows.

In this time when children who have been presented with a week's worth of horrifying imagery about the slaughter of students, all too like themselves, the sight of police cars surrounding a grade school could be highly disturbing.

There may have been something encouraging for the students to see as well. Standing with the police officers who had rushed to help were parents and neighbors.

All is well that ends well up to a point. The kids were safe. The school was prepared. The responders were trained and ready. The perpetrator was duly charged and should be severely punished. As citizens, we all have responsibilities. Creating a high-stress situation involving extreme threat that instigates an armed response and creates an unstable environment for young children is extraordinarily risky and irresponsible. The perpetrator should be punished by the courts and ostracized by the community.

The wisdom of our Founding Fathers provided us with the means to adapt and evolve as we seek to ensure that one individual's rights do not interfere with the rights of others.

While our nation debates how and if the right to bear arms provided by the Second Amendment ought to be addressed in response to the horrifying mass murder of school children, Jeremy Church is jailed for abusing the free speech rights provided by the First Amendment.

Thursday's scare revealed how while the Sandy Hook tragedy has shaken Central Pennsylvanians to the core. Police and school officials were prepared. The rest of us must now demonstrate that we want our elected leaders to adjust public policy in an appropriate manner.