GUEST COMMENTARY: A community approach is need to combat incidents like Sandy Hook

2013-01-01T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: A community approach is need to combat incidents like Sandy HookNick Kocot
January 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Sandy Hook Elementary situation should not be about who to blame. Rather, it should focus on how we, as a community, can prevent this type of scenario from occurring -- or at least minimizing the loss of life, if it does occur. How many of you have just read that first sentence and thought: “That ain’t my problem. That’s for law enforcement personnel to handle as the first responders." Let’s also pay attention to that term "first responders."

Most of the training is obtained by law enforcement personnel to stop the actions of the active shooter. But who is actually in the moment? Not public safety personnel. Rather, the actual first responders are the school administrators, faculty and janitorial staff.

Who trains them? What type of training do they need? Why are they not being properly trained? Why should they be held to the standards of being on the victim’s list? Just as an active-shooter situation is dynamic and rapidly evolving, so does our evaluation need to be of how we prepare, prevent and if necessary stop that type of situation.

More gun laws and gun control are not going to solve the problem. It certainly isn’t solving the problem now. Unfortunately, we are letting fear-based responses guide our policy and actions. We have to understand that the firearm is an inanimate object that becomes an instrument of destruction because of the animated individual utilizing it in an evil way. Ask most gun-control advocates to name three of the children killed at Sandy Hook, and I bet he or she can’t do that. But ask them the make, model and caliber of the weapon used — as well as the capacity of the weapon’s magazine — and it will roll off his or her tongue without thought.

Let’s emphasize a response to the Sandy Hook incident as a problem to be solved by the whole community. Contrary to popular belief, it is everyone's responsibility, not just law enforcement and school administrators. Let us focus on what is most important and what is permanent: the community and the lives that make up each of our respective communities. Collectively, there needs to be training between public safety and school personnel. We also need to educate parents and media personnel with what will be expected of them so that they are assisting rather than exacerbating the situation.

What troubles me the most is that I grew up in an environment where the whole community was always involved and took ownership in everything that happened in the community. It was never someone else’s problem. It was always our problem, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. Somewhere along the line, that got lost.

So expect more Sandy Hook-type scenarios and don’t just limit your thoughts to educational facilities or firearms.

Nick Kocot is an East Chicago police officer. The opinions are the writer's.

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