The 546,000 career USPS employees comprise a highly responsible and capable workforce. Instead of laying off these loyal and competent employees as the USPS inevitably declines, we should consider offering them the option of training and transitioning to become school security officers in their communities.
I don’t normally write about the same topic two Rants in a row. However, I am compelled to in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy and the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) response.
The NRA has advanced a partially good idea: armed security guards in every school building. The idea is similar but falls short of one I proposed in my last Rant column, which was to beef up both physical and electronic school security. The NRA proposal is deficient in several respects:
First, an armed volunteer force is a very bad idea. What is needed is a highly trained, paid, professional security force that is (1) competent to handle this vital function, (2) judged mentally and psychologically stable enough to be present with guns in a school environment, and (3) certified in handling the technology component essential to heightened school security.
Second, the NRA implies that armed guards alone are sufficient. They are not. Schools must also be fitted with state-of-the-art security-oriented technology, including: (1) electronic door and window closure and alarm systems, (2) airport-quality screening scanners, and (3) closed circuit TV (CCTV). Only by instituting a holistic security program will our children and school personnel be safe and will parents have the comfort that they can safely entrust their children to the education system.
There is a way to do this, while also providing the collateral benefit of solving another societal problem. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is fading away, rapidly becoming outdated, non-essential and not remotely cost-effective. The ubiquity and convenience of email, private package delivery services, and online advertising renders much of what USPS does increasingly obsolete and irrelevant. It is hemorrhaging funds at an alarming rate, which is going to continue long into the future because of the pension and health benefits obligated to postal employees and retirees for years to come. Every year, more and more good, hard-working USPS employees are laid off while Congress wrings its hands about continuing to fund a dying enterprise’s budget shortfall. If my household mail is an indicator, 90 percent of the mail the USPS processes every day falls under the “junk mail” category and is discarded immediately upon arrival. Were it not for its statutory first-class mail monopoly, USPS might have gone out of business years ago.
The 546,000 career USPS employees comprise a highly responsible and capable workforce. Instead of laying off these loyal and competent employees as the USPS inevitably declines, we should consider offering them the option of training and transitioning to become school security officers in their communities. Such trained and talented individuals could be transformed into a powerful, capable school security force. Compensate them what they are being paid now in salary and benefits, and increase their value to society and our return on investment manifold.
The training must include: (1) firearms qualification, (2) school security procedures and contingency responses, (3) psychological testing (no “going postal” jokes, please), and (4) electronic security implementation, operation and maintenance.
Page 2 of 2 - Until this new work force is trained and in place, school safety could be immediately upgraded by local police forces assigning officers to the school buildings under their jurisdiction. Several localities have already taken this step. While this may cause some heightened security concerns elsewhere, triaging makes school security more critical than, say, a squad car patrolling in a suburb or staffing courthouse entrances with five or six officers when fewer personnel would suffice.
One very big hurdle to any such proposal is that President Obama appears to be opposed to armed school security personnel. He should reconsider the idea.
“Rants” is a series of political and social observations written by part-time Canandaigua resident and Canandaigua Academy graduate Richard Hermann. Email him care of Messenger Post Media at email@example.com.