In the absence of any practical likelihood of removing the millions of guns at the disposal of potential mass shooters, and the political impasse over gun control with the NRA and far-right militias ready to launch an insurrection to defend the Second Amendment, the political debate is shrinking into a narrow arena: securitizing, or hardening schools.
The debate increasingly focuses on whether schools should have more police (euphemistically called “school resource officers”) or armed teachers, with a third option to hire armed security officers. Unfortunately, the likely consequence of securitizing schools is accelerating the school-to-prison pipeline. More guns in the hands of more male authority figures who have internalized racialized fears of black males creates the risk of more tragedy.
Rep. Amos L. Quick III, who represents a district in Greensboro and serves as the Democratic Freshman Vice Chair in the state House, cautioned against hiring more police to patrol schools during a town-hall meeting hosted by Democratic members of the Guilford County legislative delegation at Union Square on Tuesday. Quick made the point that 999 out of 1,000 days, the average police officer is not likely to encounter a school shooter, and their vigilance will be put to use in more mundane, everyday conditions.
“Most days SROs don’t have to confront intruders on the campus,” said Quick, who previously served on the Guilford County School Board. “And what winds up happening is that there’s a school-to-prison pipeline that is exacerbated by SROs on campus. That’s not a statement to tick ’em off or whatever; I’m just telling you as a fact.”
Quick is a primary sponsor of the School-Justice Partnership/Training SROs bill, which was referred to the House K-12 Education Committee and has yet to receive a hearing.
“So what that bill would have done would have been to train our SROs also in youth development. For many years I served as executive director of the six Boys and Girls Club units here in Greensboro. Anybody in here who’s ever had a teenager, at some point in time, you would want to handle them in a different way. I’ve had two. But you have to understand that with the development, everything a child does is not a federal offense.”