Earlier this evening the Albuquerque Public School Board voted 4-3 to create their own certified police force and to allow officers to carry guns on school campuses. At least half of this vote was a no brainer to me. When someone sees an officer in uniform they expect that if something goes wrong the officer is equipped and trained to handle and help. Whether the problem is on school grounds or across the street, when someone runs up to the officer for help he or she must be able to respond. If we just want someone to run up to an armed encounter and yell at the kids or run to the phone and call for help we might as well just let the gym teacher and principal patrol the school grounds.
In Albuquerque the majority of the A.P.S. officers are retired or former police officers with years of training and experience. You don't send a carpenter to build a cabinet with out his hammer. Police have many tools as well, the most important is common sense and what those in the profession call verbal judo. This is the ability to handle a situation through verbal skills and the ability to reason individuals into complying or using their police authority to obtain compliance. When dealing with unreasonable, deadly and armed individuals that is when an officer must reach into their tool belt, ( my son when he was young called it my batman belt), and use the other tools they have. Firearms are an unfortunate but necessary tool which can not just take a life but save one as well.
I am not sure why this vote was not 6 to 1 or 7 to 0 but at least they got it right. Yes training and certification costs will increase but so will the ability to take real action when and if the need arises. Can you just imagine your child running from a gunman and the officer running to the parking lot to get his or her weapon from the car trunk? The weapon might as well be at home in the dresser drawer. My daughter is a sophomore in high school in Santa Fe. Although we do not have full time officers in schools, when the officers are in the school I would not want one that has to run to their car to get their tool belt.