Editorial: Good news on school crime

April 11, 2014 

Recent good news on the level of crime in Wake County schools is welcome indeed. But it’s not a signal that we can relax when it comes to security.

Incidents like the 2012 Newtown school shooting shock our sensibilities, in part, because they happen at places where we least expect violence to take place.

As school leaders in that Connecticut community plan for a new school house in town to replace the now razed Sandy Hook Elementary School, and as local residents celebrate a decrease in crime inside our schools, this is the precise moment when we must look for opportunities to strengthen our security.

No one, to be sure, wants our schools to become mini-prisons, where doors are locked and unlocked by armed guards. But there are a great many measures that can be taken to improve safety and security on all campuses.

Wake Schools Director of Security Russ Smith has proposed changes that he says would improve security in our schools. Those recommendations cost money, to be sure, but we suspect no amount of money could replace a child lost to violence in our local schools.

It may be that Wake County – and other area districts – can phase in those improvements and, over time, reach a level of security that most people feel is about as good as it can be on an open campus.

It may also be a good idea that local school leaders keep an eye on new technologies that can help signal problems before they escalate to the level of a true tragedy.

Of course not all crime is weapon-related. Drugs account for many of the criminal behaviors that populate a crime report like the one released recently by the state.

Drug interdiction takes human resources and, since it seems unlikely that schools will become police substations, it is incumbent upon faculty and staff at local schools to become aware of what is happening around them and report it to someone with the skills to stop it.

We believe most school-based employees are fairly well aware of what’s happening around them. It’s that second action that is so vitally important.

Knowing what’s going on and doing nothing about it is regrettable, to say the least.

And, so while we celebrate better, lower crime levels now, we must all realize there remain improvements that can be made. And they should be made before people in California are reading their local newspapers in horror as they learn about the tragedy that took place in some small North Carolina community like Garner or Cleveland.

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