I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Political Correctness Overrides Common Sense and Prudent Planning....Why Not Deploy the Resources We Have?

The regular workshop from Friday, Oct. 17th  was deflating for a number of reasons.  And I’m not talking about what’s going on with the world economy, that’s a different sort of deflation, a different concern altogether… 

First of all we finally as a board were able to discuss, one month removed from last month’sregular meeting, the reasons why a special board meeting was necessary.  A month removed from a meeting that went sideways badly resulted in a situation where some board members felt that things were fine and nothing further was needed.  As I discussed the issue of the special meeting that wasn’t, I asked my fellow board members if they, like me, felt that it would have been productive to have a special meeting to discuss what went wrong at the September regular meeting.  One board member said he was opposed.  Two others indicated that “yes” they thought the special meeting would have been prudent.  The chairman stated at the workshop that she called the special sept. 30th meeting, the meeting that wasn’t, out of deference to another board member who requested it.
So when the time came to finally discuss the issues and resolutions I had intended to bring to the Sept. 30th special meeting, the board’s appetite for supporting these initiatives waned significantly.

Regarding physical security-me and one other board member felt that the issue was valid and that the issues that led to the meeting breakdown on Sept. 16th should be addressed.  Two board members and the superintendent felt that the “meeting became emotional, and yes, it was messy, but that overall they did not feel unsafe.”  Two of my counterparts stated that “Timing would look bad if we [the board] enhanced security and brought out the metal detectors for board meetings now, as this might send the wrong message to the folks who came to the meeting last month.  They might feel that we were enhancing security because of them” The chairman of the board stated that “she never felt threatened or in fear” I stated at the meeting that I am aware that there were death threats made. Is there an investigation of the death threat being conducted by the Sheriff's office?  Yes.  Was a police report filed?  Yes. Was there a weapon in the room?  We don't know.  Did someone rush the stage and require restraint?  Yes.  Were staff members scared?  Yes? So at the workshop I wanted to talk security.

But when I asked if the district owns a walk through metal detector, the superintendent refused to directly answer that question, which I found to be oddThe funny thing about that response is that I am aware that we do as a district have one, a portable, moveable walk through metal detector.  My predecessor on the board related a story about how the district, after 9-11, purchased a portable unit.  So why not answer the

 question directly? 

Regardless, I can count and the board at this time apparently has no appetite for enhancing security to a similar level of what our counterparts at the county commission enjoy, by a 3-2 count as best as I can tell.  We do have the resources to do this, however we are not doing this for reasons I do not understand and I feel are not prudent.  So I stated also at the workshop that I do not understand the reasons why if we have the protective resources to screen attendees to enhance safety, why we would not deploy such resources?  Why are we not deploying the walk through metal detector at our schools?  We could do it randomly at locations where we have had weapons confiscated on a frequent basis?  Why not use the resource we have to enhance security with random deployments of the portable, walk through metal detector at school sites like we do with the drug dogs?  Why not utilize the resource we have??  Apparently the answer is:  It might look bad.

 I know that threats of violence should be taken seriously. I know that it is better to have something and not need it, than to need something and not have it.  I was a Boy Scout, I know it is wise to always "Be Prepared" So I asked about this and initiated a discussion. 

Our district’s response?  No security, no deputies at either of our workshops this week.  Astonishing.  I simply pray to God that nobody comes to our meetings or workshops with the intent to do something violent, otherwise, when the reasons for the breakdown are studied after the fact, as they always are, someone will ask the obvious questions about why necessary and inexpensive (we already have the resources, and we have the personnel on staff to run the resources) precautions were not taken.
In a very weird way, it is reminiscent of the Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia.  Military commanders on the ground desperately wanted tanks and armor to do their mission more safely in Africa.  These requests were denied by those who had the power to give the commanders in the field the tools necessary to do their jobs safely, as political considerations took precedence over prudent planning.  

The Waco incident had just occurred giving the DoD and the White House a HUGE Black Eye, and so PC filters were applied across the government.  The newly installed President, Bill Clinton, through secretary of defense Les Aspin, said the deployment of the resources (tanks) would make America’s footprint too large, it would look bad.

Unfortunately, because of the insidious political correctness injected into that poor decision, 18 Army personnel were lost.

Poor decision making for Political Correctness’ sake can lead to devastating consequences.  I hope it never happens here in the Escambia County Public School District.

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