Virginia Tech: A year later
Thoughts from Dave Smith
Senior Street Survival Seminar Instructor
It is hard to believe a year has passed since the terrible slaughter at Virginia Tech. Our gentle culture rarely likes to use words like “slaughter” since it’s easier to turn culpability onto whomever you wish if we use softer words like “tragedy” or “incident” or “shooting.” It’s difficult to get administrators or agencies or companies to accept blame if you use harsh words.
Over the past year, some have honestly tried to learn and change the way they do things to make it possible to react to situations like this more effectively. Others still blame the University for not recognizing what was coming and shutting down a town-size campus, even though there was no precedent for such an action. I guess we could say that we have had mixed success at learning the true lessons of last April 16th.
Since the shooting, many schools have trained with their local first responders on how to deal with a similar crisis. Teachers have been taught how to lock-down and respond to critical incidents and many formerly unarmed school officers are now armed, giving them the capacity to actually protect their lives and the lives of the innocent against the high level of violence we face today. A Chief Deputy told me the other day that the Police1 and Calibre Press articles compiled following the Virginia Tech Shooting were used to change the local school district’s policy that required officers to lock their firearms in their trunks during school hours!
I am thankful that we could help make positive change. But I urge each of you to continue to champion the idea of first responders being appropriately empowered to confront high levels of threat. Be sure to maintain your vigilance and acute awareness of the fact that there will always be crazies, radicals, and violent true believers who believe that schools and children are legitimate targets in forwarding their causes or gaining the perverse fame they seek.
The answer will always be those few willing to rush to the sound of the gunfire and confront the evil when it strikes. They must be given the training, equipment, and support they need to be prepared and within themselves they must constantly reaffirm their commitment and readiness to WIN against all threats so that they might protect those they serve.