The Sheriff’s Office’s new School Services Unit began operations yesterday with a widely covered press conference. The major TV media out of Seattle led their articles about the unit emphasizing the Snohomish County schools will have “armed” deputies in them. But with that lead, the media misses the point and the potential depth of this new unit.
Yes, the Sergeant and 5 deputies who make up the unit are armed. And they will regularly visit schools in the unincorporated part of the county. But, alone, they cannot be on guard duty 24 hours a day at 100 schools. They can, however, “partner” with those schools to develop plans that meet each school’s safety needs. Those needs can range from an emergency plan for dealing with someone shooting in the school to dealing with petty theft in the hallways, or bullying among the students. Safety threats can change over time, and each school needs to be aware of the changing conditions around it to keep their students safe while they learn.
This approach is not a fortress approach, but one that uses modern police thinking in working with the public to keep our communities, and in this case, our schools safe. The decision to create this unit is based on theories such as community policing, situational crime prevention, and Problem Oriented Policing. The unit will listen to the needs of each school to determine how it can help. But, it will also look to the schools to take appropriate actions. The unit and the schools each have their parts to keeping our schools safe. Parents and their children should not have to rely on a lone, armed guard to protect them from the possibility of a violent act. By working together, the Sheriff’s Office and school staffs can develop a flexibility to guard against a wide variety of threats both large and small.
Local news coverage about the School Services Unit:
The Seattle Times-http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020570211_schoolservicesunitxml.html