#Editorial #OurVoice #MichaelHallisey #SpotlightNews
When unveiling Albany County’s new Police And Pupils Enforcing Safety program, it didn’t take long for Sheriff Craig Apple Sr. to drop mention of Parkland, Fla. In fact, he did so within his first few breathes.
The topic of public safety, in how guns play a role in it, has been a polarizing topic of debate for years. The debate may have started after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 when seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered a dozen of their fellow students in a sophisticated plot involving firearms and explosives. An argument can be made that it began in Scotland a few years before that, after 16 first-graders were killed in Dunblane.
Specifically, the debate has turned towards establishing controls on gun ownership. One side of the discussion questions the need for our general population to own semi-automatic rifles. The other side vehemently fights for what is believed a right that is protected under the United States Constitution’s Second Amendment.
So continued this debate, until Dec. 14, 2012. That’s when Adam Lanza broke into an elementary school and fatally shot 20 children between 6 and 7 years old. He also killed six adults in the shooting spree. In a moment that looked like some form of compromise was in order, neither side of the debate relented. Then came Parkland.
Fact of the matter is, there have been several reported incidents of gun violence at schools and public places. Unfortunately, these shootings have not been exclusive to just Parkland, Columbine, Dunblane and Sandy Hook. There have been more before, and since, yet this ridiculous debate over gun control laws has continued on without much resolution.
Last week, we attended a press conference in which the Albany County Sheriff’s Department put in place a communication network that directly connects three local school districts with law enforcement. A network of radios, panic buttons and phone apps ties school faculty and students together in the unthinkable, unfortunate possibility of a mass shooting within their hallways.
What’s the difference between this and 911? Sophistication.
A call for help from a specific radio fixated to a bus or room within the school has its own identification code. If a panic button is pushed in a dire situation in which someone is unable to speak, law enforcement already knows from which room within the school the call for help was made.
Sheriff Apple just sidestepped the mess created by the ever-present gun control debate and created a solution to help protect our school children. We commend him for taking action on a topic when others appear to be distracted by politics. Thank you, sir.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.