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Hard reality: Never let your guard down

“If you see something, say something.”
This was the message for all of us after 9/11 used to heighten our awareness during a time when we didn’t know from day to day where the “next” attack would take place.
A small town in Oregon is dealing with an incomprehensible tragedy where a shooter took nine lives, wounded more, and changed the lives of hundreds.
As the investigation progresses, we find the shooter was discharged from the military after only one month as unfit for military service. He all but worshiped guns, Nazis, and abhorred Christians.
We know he was unable to connect with people and turned to the Internet with some posts that were questionable, to say the least.
One of his posts noted he was looking for fame saying: “[People] like him [Vester Flanagan – Roanoke shooter] have nothing left to live for . . . Seems the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.” For this reason, common to most shooters, I refuse to mention his name . . . ever.
Experts in mental health find many of these similarities in studying the backgrounds of other shooters.
Experts point out that unlike a bank robber where the gunman wants your money, these guys want your life. Therefore, in the spirit of Flight 93, many recommend the group doing whatever you can to stop them. Chris Mintz did just that and may have saved some lives by distracting the shooter. It is a hard reality, but times have changed.
We must be proactive to stop incidents before they start, and prepared and able to respond immediately to stop any threat in our schools. There are calls for new gun laws, new gun restrictions, but what law could have stopped this?
Placing his name in the established database used to ensure people like him cannot buy guns is about the only thing that could have stopped this.
Therefore, I see the need as better reporting and improving mental health response processes. This and a return to the concept of “if you see something, say something,” and let experts take it from there are proactive solutions to this type of incident.
Finally, I commend the Washington County Commission, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and County School Board for proactively investing in School Resource Officers (SROs), present at each of our schools.
These professional law enforcement officers are specially trained for their assignment of protecting schools; they are armed; and they know the schools, their operation and student population.
They are placed there to protect the children and respond to any type of threatening situation. They are trained to quickly evaluate the situation and implement the correct response, even an armed response.
They also work to build a positive bond between police and the students, and hopefully prevent incidents before they happen.
As a result of this bond-building process, one incident of a student bringing a loaded .45 to a school some years ago was reported by a student to the SRO and appropriate action was taken — immediately.
In this world environment, we must never let our guard down…