Wednesday, February 6, 2013

School bell to dinner bell

Quite a discussion about school security took place yesterday morning at a joint meeting of the city council, school board, and mayor. My roll was primarily to discuss the history, usage, and value of school resource officers in Lincoln. There were many questions, one of which came from school board member Kathy Danek, who inquired about after-school hours.

Click to enlarge

This is a subject I had researched, blogged about, and spoken of on a prior occasion, so I was pretty familiar with the data, as described in this post from 2008. Dr. Steve Joel, the superintendent of schools (and an occasional blogger himself), snagged me after the meeting, and inquired about the data.  My graph of the eight years from 2000 through 2008 was a little outdated, so when I got back to my office, I updated the chart to reflect the 20,542 juvenile offenses that were cleared in the past decade. The time profile hasn't changed significantly, and still shows that the prime time for youth crime is between the school bell and the dinner bell. Take note, though, of the the lunch spike.


Steve said...

I don't honestly think a police officer at a school is a sure way to stop attacks such as the Newtown event that sparked the most recent efforts at gun control and school security changes. It will probably have some effect on general school safety, and I think to some degree it might make better citizens out of our youth through positive contacts with police. I doubt if we are going to spend the money, at least not for all our schools, and that is likely to simply push the problems to the others.

I still think "allowing" (not requiring) those who work in the schools to carry concealed once having passed the appropriate checks and training would be the most effective weapon against such attacks with far less cost involved.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Steve that a school resource officer isn't a sure way of stopping these types of attacks, simply because they are not available at all times, as evidenced in the Journal Star article this morning.

I'm not sure that there is an easy solution to the issue of securing the schools short of putting them behind walls with totally controlled ingress and egress (and even that really doesn't seem to prevent killings in a prison).

However, I do get tired of the argument that more people with "concealed carry" is an effective method of preventing violent crimes. For the names Lee Oswald, Squeaky Fromme, John Hinkley, Sarah Moore mean anything to you? Those are all people who took shots at the President, while the President was surrounded by highly trained, armed law enforcement officers. It wasn't their guns that stopped more than one Presidential assassination attempt.

You should also consider the number of armed police officers that are shot each year...arming the entire populace won't prevent anyone from killing if that is their intent.

I know I don't have the answer, but I'm pretty sure it isn't putting more guns in the schools.

Anonymous said...

Institutionalizing psychotics would likely be a far more effective way of preventing psychotics from self-adjusting their medication and going off the rails.

Anonymous said...

There may not be any 100% effective way to stop illegal shootings but keeping law abiding citizens from keeping and bearing arms has never solved any problems.

Lee Oswald, Squeaky Fromme, John Hinkley, Sarah Moore were not carrying LEGAL concealed weapons as far as I know.

Gun Nut

Steve said...

Anon @ 12;41

Effective is a relative term. It doesn't mean complete prevention of the atrocitiies such as those at Newtown, but it is at least possible (if not probablle) that a number of armed teachers (or other school employees) could mitigate the damages by someone intent on killing as many as possible. Even a stray bullet from one of these armed employees striking an innocent victim is likely the lesser of evils compared to simply letting the shooter have his way until the swat team arrives.

No, we can't stop everyone intent on killing someone, but we likely could stop someone before they can kill everyone.

Tom Casady said...

Gun Nut,

Actually, John Hinckley, despite being recognized by many around him as having significant psychological problems, and having been under psychiatric care, was able to walk into Rocky's Pawn Shop in Dallas, Texas and buy the Rohm .22 revolver he used in the assassination attempt perfectly legally. Like Adam Lanza, he had never been convicted of a felony, and never been "adjudicated as mentally defective"--thus was not prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. Even if he had, like Seung-Hui Cho, a background check would in all likelihood have failed to reveal the adjudication. Lanza, of course, lifted his weapons from his Mom. Cho and Hinckley just walked in and bought their weapons at retail.

Its hard enough to get an accurate criminal history, but acute mental illness is a real can of worms:

1. We have no way to prevent people with mental illnesses, no matter how serious, from legally acquiring firearms unless they have been "adjudicated mentally defective."
2. Very few people with serious mental illnesses--even those with such things as recent suicide attempts or active delusion--are ever "adjudicated mentally defective." Typically, even if they are placed in temporary emergency care, they are stabilized and willing to voluntarily accept a treatment plan before a case ever ends up in court (or in Nebraska, before the Mental Health Board.) Thus, despite acute MH problems, the patient is unlikely to be disqualified from firearm possession or purchase.
3. Mental health records for involuntary commitments by process of law (AKA "adjudicated") are a complete mess, lack any kind of systematic interstate repository, and are very rarely reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check database.

Steve said...


That's just insane!

Then again, when you think about it, even a mentally ill person should have the right to defend themselves. It's a real conundrum.

Tom Casady said...

You're right, Steve, it really is a complex issue. Lots of people--millions--suffer from mental illnesses that make them no more likely to commit violent acts than anyone else. Why shouldn't they be able to hunt, shoot trap, collect guns, or keep a Remington 870 around to protect their farmhouse from the meth heads that have been stealing their anhydrous?

There's a world of difference between someone who suffers from some clinical depression that is well-managed and someone who is schizophrenic with little control over their episodic breaks with reality.

For a layman, I think I'm probably better than most people at spotting spot a person who shouldn't be allowed to carry a sharp pencil, but I can't put it in a list that could be codified into a law very easily.

Steve said...

That's the trouble with this country; those darn civil rights keep getting in the way. :)