Educational Exercises Aimed At School Shootings, Drug Abuse Result In Terrorized Students And K-9 Attacks

from the administrators-and-cops:-both-woefully-underqualified-to-educateq dept

In what seems to be a continuance of the questionable “scared straight” programs (questioned by no less that the DOJ), schools are involving kids in drills ostensibly aimed at educating them about how to react in extremely rare situations. Recently, we covered a so-called “drill” that involved a hijacked bus full of kids, which was “defused” in front of an audience comprised mainly of educators and people holding the local PD’s purse strings. It was a rousing success, if your measurement standard starts at “everyone dies” and tops out at “no one was injured.” This was portrayed as an essential bit of “anti-terrorism” training and an educational experience for bus drivers and students, but considering it all played out in front of town officials, the ultimate purpose seemed to be nothing more than a chance for the cops to play dress-up and get all duded up in some underused tactical gear.

Scott Greenfield covers another bit of “education” aimed at, well, who knows what exactly. The new concern is the “active shooter,” and several schools are performing drills onsite in order to train staff (and children) how to react in case of school shooting.

Today, schools are engaging in active shooter drills. Trying to impute the best of faith to those who came up with the idea, it’s because this is perceived as the most likely tragedy that a school can face. It may not be likely, but it does happen. So why not be prepared?

“If you missed last week’s ‘mad gunman terrorizes American schoolchildren’ news story,this time out of North Carolina, don’t feel bad; these days they’re common enough that it’s not reasonable to expect any one person can keep up with them all.

Still, last week’s story was notable for two reasons: One, nobody actually got shot; and two, the gunman was on the school’s payroll. Seriously: Administrators at Eastern Wayne Middle School later sent parents a letter explaining that they sent a masked gunman to various sixth-grade classrooms as an ‘enrichment lesson on exhibiting good citizenship and observing your surroundings.'”

The explanation letter, reducing a basic concept of disaster preparedness to the idiocy of “exhibiting good citizenship” (a good citizen does not get shot?) can be forgiven. To the extent school administrators were ever capable of using comprehensible language to explain something clearly and accurately, they are now paid by the jargon phrase used and can’t be expected to forget the entirety of their education and experience. Just ignore it.

There’s more stupidity here, including the fact that children aren’t being informed that these are, in fact, drills.

A suburban Chicago high school ran a “code red” drill with the gunmen shooting blanks in January. Last month, an Indiana school ran a shooting drill replete with blood and a body count.

Last year, an El Paso, Tex., school set up a shocking surprise lockdown simulation that enraged parents like Stephanie Belcher, whose son sent her a panicked text message.

“He said, ‘I’m not kidding. There’s gunshots and people screaming and we were locked in a storage closet,’ ” Belcher told KFOX-TV. “These kids thought that their classmates were being killed and that they could be next. There’s no excuse for that.”

The potential for harm, either physical or emotional, is high. “Preparing” students for a highly unlikely event by terrorizing them teaches them nothing more than “this situation is terrifying.” It’s highly doubtful anyone from the administration side is learning anything either. If they were, they might realize how counterproductive it is to prepare for an event you can’t control by inducing a uninformed state of panic in the student body. No amount of tying “try not to die” to citizenship ideals is going to change that.

But cops and admins like drills, especially when it gives law enforcement a chance to show off their “tools” (often just guns and tactical gear). Cops and admins also like teaching kids that any policy- or law-violating act is sure to result in swift and zealous punishment.

In Brazil, Indiana, Judge J. Blaine Akers decided to kick off a weeklong “Red Ribbon Awareness” event at the courthouse by grabbing some local elementary school students and subjecting them to a simulated drug search. Things went predictably bad.

According to the report, the officer and his K-9 partner, Max, as well as another K-9 team were requested by Clay County Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers to carry out a simulated raid of a party with actors in place to help “educate the Clay County fifth-graders on drug awareness.”

He added the juveniles in the scenario met with officers prior to the start and were asked to remain still when the dogs searched for narcotics.

McQueen said a very small amount of illegal drugs were hidden on one of the juveniles to show how the dogs can find even the smallest trace of an illegal substance. He added all this was done “under exclusive control and supervision of members of the court and law enforcement.” Four scenarios were carried out that day with the incident occurring during the third scenario.

“As I got closer to the actors, Max began searching the juveniles,” according to the officer’s report. “The first male juvenile began moving his legs around as Max searched him. When the male began moving his legs, (this is what) I believe prompted Max’s action to bite the male juvenile on the left calf.”

In appreciation for his participation in this bizarre “simulation,” the fifth grader was gifted with a free trip to the hospital to treat puncture wounds. There’s a lot that’s impossibly stupid about this judge’s ill-advised “demonstration,” but there apparently wasn’t a single cop who thought this might be a bad idea — certainly not beforehand and, judging from the post-incident comments, not in hindsight, either.

“It was an unfortunate accident,” said Brazil Police Chief Clint McQueen. “Wish it hadn’t happened like that but it did. We are trying to evaluate (the incident) to make sure nothing like this happens again.”

Easy. Don’t subject people, whether they’re elementary student or adults, to fake drug sweeps, especially if you’re going to plant drugs on them and send a dog trained to react aggressively to drugs and sudden movements out to give them a nasal patdown.

There’s also this, as was pointed out by criminal defense lawyer Robert Fickman:

What’s important to note within this story beyond the obvious, is the unstated ease in which the cops planted dope on the child.

That’s comforting news for anyone who’s had a law enforcement officer touch their person or belongings. Also comforting? The fact that the officers pursued statements from other children to corroborate their story.

The other K-9 officer met with Walters after the incident and said that several other children involved in the scenario saw the young man shake his legs when Max approached.

McQueen said the incident was not anything “out of control,” but just a quick reaction by the dog to the young man’s sudden movement.

Kids move. Kids get nervous or bored or uncomfortable and move. Even adults, innocent adults, get nervous when engaging with law enforcement and will move inadvertently. These officers put kids in the path of an animal that’s been trained to be half-investigator, half-weapon and expected everything to go well.

And all of this was, according to the judge who set it up, an “educational” experience meant to raise “drug awareness.” But in practice, it’s little more than Scared Straight Lite. Instead of spending time with criminals, kids are spending more and more time in the presence of armed officers — people they believe are supposed to be their protectors but whose actual mileage may vary after being bitten by an attack dog or locked in a closet listening to gunshots and screaming.

On the other hand, perhaps some sort of educational growth is being obtained, although it certainly isn’t what those ordering this drills and exercises would hope to be the outcome. Kids may be learning that law enforcement officers are inscrutable and possibly dangerous. They may be learning that inadvertent movements, if viewed as “threatening” or “sudden” by officers (and their dogs), are instantly punishable by the application of pain… or worse. They may also be learning that those in power entertain themselves by performing a whole lot of dubious “somethings” that toy with the emotional health of those under their control, solely in order to show constituents that they’re on top of the problem — whether it’s school shootings, drug use or plain old disobedience.

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Comments on “Educational Exercises Aimed At School Shootings, Drug Abuse Result In Terrorized Students And K-9 Attacks”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

So how exactly are these actions not considered terrorism and/or at the very least assault with a deadly weapon?

You’ve got a masked gunman breaking into a school, ‘shooting’ children with blanks(which are more than capable of causing serious harm, improperly used), either locking them in closets or causing such panic that they did it themselves, causing them to think that their friends are being gunned down… if someone did that as a ‘prank’, they’d have every law in the book thrown at them, but when a school administrator does it suddenly there’s ‘nothing to be alarmed’ about it?

Every single person involved in that needs to be fined, forced to pay any resulting counseling costs, and fired, with such a massive public shaming that they would never again be able to be employed in a position where they can make such a monumentally bad decision affecting others ever again.

Likewise with the dog bite story, in a case like that, dealing with an animal that has been specifically trained to not only go on high alert the second it smells drugs, but to aggressively take down resisting suspects, and then to let it free on easily startled school-kids… what the hell did they think was going to happen?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

? assault with a deadly weapon?

There are two laws: There is a law for you?and there is a law for them.

If the police put you or your children in genuine fear for your life, then it’s just one of those things, and there won’t be any consequences.

If you or your child do anything at all that a government lawyer can argue puts them in ?genuine? fear for their life, limb, property or dignity?then they shoot you. Then you are dead.

A law for you?and a law for them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is Illinois law on assault:

“A person commits an assault when, without lawful authority, he or she knowingly engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.”

“A person commits aggravated assault when, in committing an assault, he or she does any of the following:
(1) Uses a deadly weapon… or any device manufactured and designed to be substantially similar in appearance to a firearm…”

The only possible defense in this case is that the action was done under “lawful authority”. Otherwise, this is clearly aggravated assault. One count per student in the school. Whether it’s a felony or class A misdemeanor depends on the exact gun used.

And as far as the dog thing goes, this is Indiana law:

“A person having the care of a dependent, whether assumed voluntarily or because of a legal obligation, who knowingly or intentionally… places the dependent in a situation that endangers the dependent’s life or health… commits neglect of a dependent, a Class D felony. However, the offense is a Class C felony if it …results in bodily injury…”

Placing the child near the dog clearly endangered their health, and I’m pretty sure the courts have ruled that students are in the care of the school while they are there. ‘In loco parentis’ and all that. If the schools want the extra rights this doctrine gives them to do certain things, they have to accept the increased responsibility as well.

Yes, I seriously believe the increased penalties for being in their care are called for. The children are not free to leave.

That’s 1 count of the class C felony for the student who was bitten, and 1 count of the class D felony for every student who was searched by a dog for no reason.

Let’s also tack on drug charges to the officers involved, since they didn’t have a legitimate reason to plant drugs. And they distributed the drugs to a minor. If it was “a controlled substance, pure or adulterated, classified in schedule I, II, or III, except marijuana, hash oil, hashish, salvia, or a synthetic cannabinoid” that is a class A felony in Indiana.

“As used in this chapter, ‘minimum sentence’ means… for a Class A felony, twenty (20) years;”

Of course, no prosecutor would ever actually charge anyone involved.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s exactly what I expect will happen one of these times, if they are moronic enough to keep doing it.

One of these times they’ll have the ‘gunman’ break into a classroom and threaten the students with what appears to be a lethal weapon, one of the students will assume the worst, and they’ll grab whatever’s closest to them and take out the ‘attacker’ in an attempt to protect the other students. After all the excuse given was to educate students in ‘exhibiting good citizenship’, and what better example of that could you have than someone trying to protect others from someone trying to kill them?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Sadly yeah, that’s probably exactly how it would go down, with the ones who caused the whole mess claiming that since, obviously, the gunman wasn’t actually threatening them, ‘self-defense’ doesn’t enter into it, making it not just assault/murder, but unprovoked assault/murder.

The alternative would be that the harm and/or death of the ‘gunman’ was entirely the fault of the person/people who hired them to go around terrorizing children, and since those people could sooner fly by flapping their arms than admit to being wrong, they would almost certainly blame, and continue to blame, the ‘violent student for his/her unprovoked attack’.

scotts13 (profile) says:

Laws that protect us from dangerous animals

Many places, there are laws that protect people from attacks from dangerous animals. Often, they require animals that bite a human be destroyed and the owner fined or imprisoned. This clearly wasn’t a serious police activity, and the officers involved were 100% sure the “suspect” was innocent.

So… It’s OK if your attack-trained dog injures someone? Good to know. It’s not like the police can say they were doing their jobs, and therefore supposedly above the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Texas...

They did…

Last year, an El Paso, Tex., school set up a shocking surprise lockdown simulation that enraged parents like Stephanie Belcher, whose son sent her a panicked text message.

?He said, ?I?m not kidding. There?s gunshots and people screaming and we were locked in a storage closet,? ? Belcher told KFOX-TV. ?These kids thought that their classmates were being killed and that they could be next. There?s no excuse for that.?

out_of_the_blue says:

What's the big deal? You kids play "First Person Shooter" games!

Guess it’s okay learning how to murder innocent people in Grand Theft Auto… But at least for now you still manage some outrage and empathy when at gun point.

[Disclaimer: YES, I’m partly sarcastic here. But if you hold that there’s nothing inherently wrong with FPS “games” in which YOU simulate murdering people, then THIS is the kind of society you’re going to get. In reality, you can’t pick and choose just the one perspective you want.]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What's the big deal? You kids play "First Person Shooter" games!

Completely true, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t understand the difference between reality and games played out on a screen, or any other work of fiction.

That however is a mental impairment not something to be pandered to by the other 99.999%* of the population.

*Figures in the US will be lower.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: The difference:

One is fictional, and involves the ‘death’ or ‘harm’ of pixels.

The other is real and involves the death or harm of an actual person.

Anyone who can’t tell the difference between the two has serious issues to work out, as they are displaying a stunning lack of the ability to separate fantasy from reality, a serious problem that usually gets people committed.

Brazenly Anonymous says:

Re: What's the big deal? You kids play "First Person Shooter" games!

If they want to model the school in a video game and have each of the students play themselves in said game, that would perfectly fine. No contradiction involved. Most kids are pretty good at grasping the difference between real life and games, the rest learn after the first time they try to pay someone with monopoly money.

Here’s another idea: Set it up as a paintball event with all the students, parents and teachers aware of the event and allowed to opt out. Provide the required safety apparatuses. Everyone would probably have a good time and still be well aware about what would happen in a real emergency.

There is an incidental cost from the panic in an actual emergency that doesn’t occur during the drills. The point of the drill is to train people on what to do during the emergency in order to eliminate or at least reduce this panic. If the drill is not obviously a drill, the incidental cost the drill is designed to alleviate will still be paid, rendering the drill a pointless waste.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What's the big deal? You kids play "First Person Shooter" games!

It’s already been established that being able to shoot people in videogames doesn’t mean jack squat when it comes to even attempting to use a real weapon or participate in anything involving actual violence.

That requires actual training or a mental disorder.

All video games can do is desensitize SOME people to some images of violence.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Clarification

That requires actual training or a mental disorder.

A mental disorder does not substitute for weapons training any more than it would substitute for flight school.

And while some of us game enthusiasts would like to see games in which proper gun handling and maintenance was simulated, it’s going to be a while. And it still won’t substitute for hands-on practice.

As of this posting I have not received a US National Security Letter or any classified gag order from an agent of the United States
Encrypted with Morbius-Cochrane Perfect Steganographic Codec 1.2.001
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 10:16:38 AM
cook blister valley consonant graffiti aspirin saviour tray

Brazilian Guy says:

Re: What's the big deal? You kids play "First Person Shooter" games!

Mr. out_of_the_blue,

Americans love their guns, and enjoy buying them, and those who do mostly entertain themselves by shooting small objects, hunting, or fantasing about self defense.

The Japanese also love guns, and created an entire sport centered around them – Airsoft – with many, many schools having Airsoft clubs – where students train military tactics, marksmanship and weapon maintenance. Again, yes, they have Airsoft gun clubs in schools, and noone there thinks they are learning how to murder innocent people.

As for games like the last Grand Theft Auto, well, those games are not for kids. They are for ages 17+. The parents that allow a minor to play them is more or less as irresponsible as if they let that kid see porn movies, smoke tabacco or drink booze. But what is that so special about a kid turning 17 and being allowed to play this game? Well, i invite you to tell me your opinion – does the average american 17 old adolescent has enough maturity to distinguish fact from fiction? Is that a reasonable age that an individual should be allowed to be exposed to content considered mature? Please remember that there are plenty of content in TV and Magazines and Movies that are far more disturbing than GTA V. As example, the movie “Pain & Gain”, who actualy based in a true story that got published in the newspaper miaminewtimes. (

And as a last point of contention, i would argue that PayDay2 is a better crime simulator than GTA V ever will be. And thus, much more entertainment for law abbiding citizens.


Brazilian Guy.

Brazenly Anonymous says:

Reasonable demonstrations

A much better demonstration of a police dog’s abilities:

Cover three dog bowls with a plastic stool, inside of one of which is drugs. Unleash the dog and demonstrate that it heads unerringly to the bowl with the drugs.

Have a Police Officer don a heavily padded armband and bait the dog, ensuring the padded arm remains the closest limb to the animal. The dog then locks the padded arm in its jaws and the Police Officer demonstrates that he can’t pull free of the bite.

I may be a little fuzzy on the details. It’s been a while since I attended such a demonstration.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Reasonable demonstrations

Ah, but between those demonstration ideas, and the one listed in the article, only one of the two will instil an almost instinctive fear of the police, and given the whole ‘demonstration’ was called for by a judge, I can’t help but think that while he may not have meant for someone to get hurt, he probably was trying to scare them and make sure he’d never see any of them in his court room in the future.

Education through intimidation, rather than logic basically.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Reasonable demonstrations

More likely scenario is: donut eater gets his panties in a wad over some citizen he doesn’t like the looks of ( probably too dark for the kop) and calls in a k9 officer, said officer gets the high sign and proceeds to get his dog to ‘alert’ on whatever the fuck the kop wants, maybe even drops a dime bag to be ‘found’…
THAT is a far more likely scenario…
Donut eaters r not your friends…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Reasonable demonstrations

I remember going to a demonstration similar to what you describe as a child and the dogs scared the shit out of me from a distance.

I can’t imagine I would have been able to keep still if one of those German Sheppard’s was sniffing round my ankles. I also remember the dog handlers being very careful to keep the dogs away from us. This judge should be locked up for organizing such a stupid exercise.

aldestrawk says:

active shooter scenario

At some point an active shooter drill will run into some kid who has martial arts experience. The fake shooter will be maimed and the resulting paranoia about potential lawsuits will kick in and end this insanity all across the nation.

As for the simulated drug searches, this makes sense because the police are preparing the students for future, non-simulated, random drug searches. The child being bitten teaches all the other kids they must remain still.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Back when I was in high school, two kids got expelled for having a gun on school grounds. They weren’t the violent type, both cases were just accidents. The first one just left his hunting rifle in his car after the first day of hunting season. I don’t remember the exact story of the second kid, but I think his uncle borrowed his coat.

Now, that was over a decade ago, guns must be far more common in schools. I mean, that’s the only reason I can think of to necessitate swat team like active shooter drills for children. Shouldn’t these people be worried about someone shooting back, or even worse, joining them?

The preceding was only partially sarcastic. I’m a relatively intelligent adult, not a teenager going threw a rebellious phase. God only knows how I would react during one of these drills, let alone after one of these drills, if I was a kid. PTSD is a bitch.

scotts13 (profile) says:

Re: someone shooting back

An unannounced drill like this could easily result in some brave student attempting to defend himself, and the result if he does so is left to the imagination. Will an officer respond instantly and instinctively, as they seem wont to do? What if a visiting parent responds, or an outside contractor ? (I work in schools as a consultant).

Good thing they do this in a place where carry permits are typically invalid.

Brazenly Anonymous says:

Re: Re:

My never used plan from the college days (didn’t really feel the need for one in HS) was to hide under a desk next to the door and body slam them with the desk when they came into the room. The desktop should protect you from a single wild shot during the short moment of vulnerability.

Another option for the slightly less daring is to barricade the door with a bookcase held in place by a pile of desks.

Wally (profile) says:

Bat-shit crazy..

I was going to write about how proper preparedness for such situations is a good thing…but I found a lot of these methods completely ludicrous. They are trying too hard to traumatize the students into thinking they need to stay calm…as a psychologist, I find the use of blood caps and firing blanks quite a lot more distressing, which only causes the human brain to fear the situation more rather than tell it to prepare should the occasion actually arise. There is a very simple way to drill…you don’t need actors, you don’t need police involvement, you only need the steps to be carried out to secure the situation…that’s all.

Scared Straight failed because it used typical prison euphemisms in order to show how scary it was to be in prison rather than actually tell the students what the convict’s life was actually like before and in prison.

Anonymous Coward says:

As far as I know, training alone will not teach people to react properly under extreme stress. However extreme physical training is known to be very accurate in selecting people who can continue to think under extreme stress. Perhaps any adult thinking of running such exercises, and all involved in the exercise, should be required to get through the SEAL selection course before they can run such exercises. Then their is a food chance they will not panic when such an exercise starts to go wrong.

Trevor says:


As a parent of three year old twins, I hope this never happens at any school my kids attend in the future.

As an attorney, this immediately sets off alarm bells as to the constitutionality of the raids, the effects on the kids, and the liability of the officers and school officials.

As a parent who happens to be an attorney, may the gods have mercy on the souls of whatever school and law enforcement officials approve or participate in this kind of “exercise” at any of my kids schools.

T Teshima (profile) says:

Just More Security Theatre

It’s just more security theatre. As mentioned many times before on this site, Homeland Security and the TSA don’t protect against real threats, they just pretend to so that the public will feel better. Same thing here. Instead of dealing with real threats, controlling access to firearms, better mental health care, ect. stupid gov’t officials like to act tough and engage in security theatre, and of course the cops just egg them on, since it increases their budgets, and let’s them buy all those toys. It’s just pathetic.

Anonymous Coward says:

In My Very Humble Opinion

The officer who A) planted drugs on an unsuspecting child, and B) turned a trained drug-detecting dog loose on same, deserves to be A) prosecuted for drug offenses, and B) prosecuted for assault with a deadly weapon. That he should be fired, along with the rest of that bunch of idiots, and especially the “Judge”, goes without saying.

Cowards Anonymous says:

So a kid who says he’s going to drill his teammates is suspended, but school administrators who actually drill their students are OK? They sound like the US government does now: hypocrites.

I guess we know why school administrators took the kid tweeting that he was going to drill his teammates as a threat if this is what their definition of “drill” is.

Comprehensive Dental (profile) says:

Complex Issues

Like most of the on-goings in today’s world, this is a highly complex issue, with no fully objective answer. Although I don’t speak for everyone, as parents a few of our goals are to protect our children, to teach our children, and to shield our children’s short-lived innocence without keeping them ignorant of the world at large, and its short-comings and negative aspects. It’s a difficult enough task as a family unit. How can we begin to extrapolate all of the issues to a larger, societal scale, without running into any problems? There will always be something. We as individuals and as a society must learn from the past, and apply this knowledge.

Although it clearly isn’t thorough enough, at least they had the hind sight to send a letter to the parents. Though they clearly should have had the prudence to get permission. But who would subject their children to such a thing? Even if they did, who would let their children go to school without forewarning of the event? Knowledge that it wasn’t real would probably negate any possible benefit that could come from the scenario.

Is there any possible benefit that could even come from said scenario?

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