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Letters to the Editor


Active Shooter Training

December 19, 2012

Letter to the Editor:

This is an open challenge to the Palo Verde Valley Times and anyone else, including elected officials, who claim to be opposed to Active Shooter training. In the aftermath of the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week, school administrators and teachers all across the country are asking themselves if their schools are prepared for something as equally horrible.

Over the past two years, the Blythe Police Department has been extremely proactive in presenting Active Shooter training to schools as well as to City employees. Earlier this year, however, there was much outcry, covered by the Palo Verde Valley Times and yes, even one City Councilman, who tried to convince others that Active Shooter training was bad.

For those of you who at least claimed to be against the training, can you now honestly, in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, make the same claim? You can’t. Did the teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook previously receive the training? I don’t know, and I’m sure the Newtown Police Department is too busy to take a phone call from me to ask, but if not, would the training have saved lives? Would it have at least slowed the crazed gunman down while emergency responders were en route to the point where even one tender life had been spared? And if they did have the training, is it possible that even one of the things they were taught was employed, thereby saving even more lives?

So for those of you who claimed that the training offered by the Blythe Police Department was bad, and that it caused a small number of you teachers to file workers compensation claims against the school district, and to complain to the teachers’ union, and for the Palo Verde Valley Times to join in and vilify the City, and especially for the city councilman who, on his Facebook page, not only implored people to come forward and complain so that he could stop the training but actually filed formal complaints against me personally with the Riverside County District Attorney and the FBI, I say, “Wake up”. And read on.

One of the country’s foremost experts on aggression is a retired army Lt. Colonel by the name of Dave Grossman. Colonel Grossman is, among other things, a member of the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security, a former West Point psychology professor, Professor of Military Science, and an Army Ranger, and is an internationally recognized scholar, author, and speaker and one of the world's foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime. What this means is, the guy knows his stuff.

According to Colonel Grossman, “The enemy is denial.” Let that sink in a minute. Sure, it happened in Newtown, about 2,600 miles away, but it can’t happen in Blythe, right? Please read the following passage from an article on Colonel Grossman in PoliceOne.com:

“The challenge for law enforcement agencies and officers, then, is to overcome not only the attacks taking place in schools, but to first overcome the denial in the minds of mayors, city councils, school administrators, and parents (emphasis added). Grossman said that agencies and officers, although facing an uphill slog against the denial of the general public, must diligently work toward increasing understanding among the sheep that the wolves are coming for their children. Police officers must train and drill with teachers (emphasis added), not only so responding officers are intimately familiar with the facilities, but so that teachers know what they can do in the event of an attack (emphasis added).”

In referencing the Columbine High School shooting of 1999, Colonel Grossman has said, “If somebody had spent five minutes telling that teacher what to do, do you think lives would have been saved at Columbine?”

Is Blythe prepared for the unthinkable? I don’t think it is when the local news media, a local elected official, and labor unions stand together and claim that Active Shooter training is bad and should be stopped.

I therefore specifically challenge the Palo Verde Valley Times to openly endorse Active Shooter training, I challenge the college, and the hospital to require their employees to participate in active shooter training, and I further challenge anyone else who opposes it to wake up and take note that the wolves may be coming for our sheep and we all should be prepared.

Steve Smith, Chief of Police, City of Blythe


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