In a perfect world, students and teachers should be able to attend school every day without the fear of violence. Many campuses, from elementary to collegiate, have even brought on school resource officers (SROs) to help ensure the safety and security of school grounds and those who attend.
Unfortunately, the frequency of school violence is trending in the wrong direction. Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics notes that during the 2021-2022 school year, the number of school shootings involving casualties doubled compared to the previous school year.
Even if guns aren’t present on a school campus, there are still other threats to consider, whether it be a student with a knife, an act of arson or aggressive bullying between students. SROs are often equipped with a range of tools to help protect others against these threats, yet in many instances, each of these solutions can bring its own set of challenges.
“As we know, in law enforcement gunfights, there are a lot of misses,” said Alain Burrese, author of “Survive a Shooting: Strategies to Survive Active Shooters and Terrorist Attacks” and certified active shooter response instructor. “How many shots are fired versus actual targets hit? There’s always an opportunity for innocent people to be hit by stray bullets.”
Less-lethal tools like pepper spray can’t always be deployed in the event of school violence either, particularly if an altercation is taking place inside a building. When used indoors, the spray can easily travel into an HVAC system and impact students and teachers who are many classrooms away.
So what is an SRO to do when faced with an emerging school threat? Many are turning to Presidia Gel by Reflex Protect Tactical, a CS spray that’s target-specific and eliminates the chance of cross-contamination.
LESS-LETHAL YET VERY EFFECTIVE
Unlike other sprays on the market, Presidia Gel doesn’t aerosolize when used, making it an ideal tool for school resource officers who may need to deploy a less-lethal option indoors. Its gel-like consistency can be delivered from up to 15 feet away, and it cannot be grabbed and thrown once it has hit a target, such as can be done with a tear gas canister or other projectile.
Presidia Gel’s pinpoint accuracy allows SROs to use it to de-escalate a number of violent situations without injuring the offender. This is especially important, says Burrese, when it comes to dealing with young students.
“A good resource officer gets to know the students in their school – they’re their kids,” he said. “If one of them turns out to be bad, it’s still their kid. It’s much easier to spray someone with a less-lethal tool to stop the violence and get that kid the help he or she needs. It’s much better than ending that student’s life and it’s better psychologically for teachers, resource officers, everyone.”
Getting a student the help they need can happen that much sooner thanks to the quick decon solution that accompanies Presidia Gel. While it can take 15 minutes or even longer for an individual to recover from being pepper sprayed, Presidia Gel’s decon solution works in just a few minutes.
Case in point: Burrese recalls one instance when he traveled to a school in Polson, Montana to teach faculty and SROs how to use Presidia Gel. One SRO eagerly volunteered to be sprayed during the training. The SRO later said the effects of Presidia Gel were bad but the decon solution “did what they said it did.”
A HELPFUL TOOL WHEN IT MATTERS MOST
School resource officers can’t be everywhere at once, and Burrese is seeing an increase in schools equipping and training teachers to use Presidia Gel in the event they need to stop an emerging threat.
“Just a few weeks ago, I was at a little school in Montana because they don’t have a school resource officer,” he said. “They have Reflex Protect in every classroom. The entire staff completed an active shooter response and a Reflex Protect user certification class. Some schools I work with do have a school resource officer but they’re not there 100% of the time, so they work hand in hand.”
Reflex Protect Tactical’s Presidia Gel can be used in a range of situations, whether it’s a teacher attempting to break up a fight between students while waiting for an SRO to arrive or a more serious threat of violence that can be mitigated by campus security.
Ultimately, it’s up to each school district in conjunction with available school resource officers to determine the safest and most effective plan – with as little liability risk as possible – should an incident occur.
“Most police officers I know are in favor of individuals taking some responsibility to defend themselves until law enforcement gets there,” said Burrese. “Officers like the less-lethal aspect of Reflex Protect as well – if we started giving a gun to every teacher, that’s a whole different ballgame.”
Visit Reflex Protect Tactical for more information.