Florida School Shooting Should Not Panic Park Ridge


One of the more detestable politicians, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, infamously said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

It appears that some Park Ridge residents subscribe to Rahm’s philosophy, judging from the February 15 post by Lauren Hall on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners FB page in response to last week’s St. Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Hall’s opening salvo: “Has safety taken a higher priority yet? Perhaps the one vestibule project was too expensive but now what?”

She appears to be referring to Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, which has installed allegedly “secured vestibules” at its Washington Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools but has delayed their installation at the District’s other schools because one or more School Board members might dare to think that our schools are already reasonably secure; and that the District’s limited resources should be spent on…wait for it…education.

The nerve of them!

We suggest you read that post and the string of comments it provoked, which run the gamut from “[W]hy would test scores be a higher [priority than safety] if our kids are dead?” and “I’m not going to complain about the cost of any safety measure if it may save even one life” to “How do you protect against the kid…who carries a gun into school in his/her backpack?” and “If someone wants to commit an atrocity like [the Florida shooting] a vestibule is a false sense of security.”

After you’ve finished, ask yourself: Will a motivated shooter – which each of these school shooters is – be deterred by (a) the not-really-secured vestibules this blog has ripped on several occasions, most recently in our 07.21.2017 post, or by (b) the School Resource Officers (“SROs”) proposed for Emerson and Lincoln middle schools, which we criticized in our o8.31.2017 post? (And, BTW, that Florida high school had an SRO on duty at the time).

If your answer is “Yes,” then answer the trenchant budgetary question posed by Toni Wolf that appears fairly early in that string of comments:

“What are you willing to get rid of or reduce to pay for vestibules?”

Not surprisingly, virtually all of the commentators ignored that question.

Instead, some applauded the vestibules at Washington and Lincoln for giving the folks manning the school office a clear view of everybody who enters the school. But unless those office folks have Superman’s x-ray vision they can’t see the collapsed-stock AR-15 or the MAC-10 in the disturbed kid’s backpack. Or the AR-15 stuck down the pants of some whacked-out dad showing up for a Science Olympiad. Or the Glock with a 30-round clip (and a spare?) in the Dooney & Bourke tote of a looney mom attending a holiday program.

What might prevent those dangers? Metal detectors would help, assuming they would be manned by competent operators and would actually be used all day, every day – even on rainy ones when the line of kids going through them backs up and stretches out the door, ironically providing a prospective shooter with an inviting target in its own right. Metal detectors also wouldn’t stop a shooter from targeting kids on the playground at recess, or leaving school at day’s end.

Fortunately, despite the wailing and hand-wringing of certain Concerned Homeowners, the chances of any of our children dying (or even being wounded) by gunfire anywhere in our community are probably about the same as the chances of any of them dying from a plane slamming into Maine South, a catastrophe certain residents have been warning about since Flight 191 crashed after take-off from O’Hare in May 1979.

That’s a good thing, although apparently not good enough for the Chicken Little brigade.

One of our more revered presidents (at least in some circles), Franklin D. Roosevelt, famously said: “[T]he only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Unfortunately, too many of our residents seem almost addicted not merely to fear but to phobia – a phobia that too often seems to be assuaged only by the irresponsible wasting of the taxpayers’ money on snake oil palliatives that enrich fear-mongering security consultants like RETA Security, Inc. that has been advising D-64.

And architects like FGM who happily, and profitably, re-design our schools.

To read or post comments, click on title.

20 comments so far

You can apply your logic to many areas. Let’s try air travel. The chances of your plane being brought down by a terrorist are minuscule. So why do we have all those screeners and machines?? They cost a lot of cash!! Beyond that, I have to leave home about 1.5 hrs before I take off even though I live in PR. Let’s just dump all of them and save the money and time. They will not stop a well motivated terrorist any way.

How about drunk driving. We spend all this money on breathalyzers and public education when none of it will stop a well motivated drunk, right, and what are the chances of someone being killed or injured by drunk drivers?!? Why MADD must be members or the chicken brigade. Let’s cross that on off the list and save the cash!!

I guess if anything good has come from this it at least gave you a chance to call your fellow residents names…..and god knows you can never pass that up.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you believe the Homeland Security folks (and the private Homeland Security contractors) who derive their power and make their livings (and profits) from securing our airports and airplanes, all that expensive security has foiled numerous motivated terrorist plots, and deterred others.

And if you believe those MADD folks, their advocacy and the laws they have persuaded/coerced state and federal legislators to enact have saved thousands/tens of thousands/ hundreds of thousands of lives.

On the other hand, over at least the past 30 years (if not decades more) there have been no reports of terrorist or drunk-driving threats – or threats from deranged individuals like Adam Lanza, Nikolas Cruz, et al. armed with AR-15s – directed against Park Ridge schools or school children. The only threats to those schools and school children appear to come from increasing academic underachievement and the millions of tax dollars wasted on foolishness like those not-really-secured vestibules.

Finally, we never pass up calling a spade a spade – rather than calling it a heart or a diamond. The spades hate it, of course, but it’s far more honest than the “spin” and outright lies promulgated by the politicians, the apologists and the enablers of stupidity, ignorance, profligacy and underachievement.

Bring out the bubble wrap and fire up the helicopters.

Too many Park Ridge parents coddle and enable their kids’ underachievement and misconduct. And no matter where something like this Florida shooting occurs, they can’t do anything but knee-jerk their irrational fears (phobias?) and expect everybody else to provide lock-down security and psychotherapy for their kids.


Job One of our schools is education. Not security (unless there is a real, not imagined, security problem), and not social or psychological counseling.

All this security, counseling, etc. is just a diversion from the decline of education quality.

The lunatic in Lakeland that killed 17- wasn’t he expelled from that school. Didn’t he post on social media what some believed were threats of violence towards the School?
Didn’t our safe town just last year have a student display a gun on social media and press reported it contained a reference of going to our local high school with it? Wasn’t that student “not allowed to return to school for a year”? No City no matter how “safe” in everyday events is immune from this. Making weapons of war less accessible will not prevent these events but will minimize casualties. At sandy hook the time it took that lunatic to change out his clips- 2-3 students were able to escape to safety. The lunatic in Lakeland unsuccessfully tried to shoot out the hurricane proof windows to kill more students (though if he were rational he could have just opened the window) law enforcement believes this may have prevented some deaths. Will bullet proof vestibules or Windows prevent these incidents- no- can they make them less deadly or give some children a chance to escape until police can arrive- probably.

EDITOR’S NOTE: So what you’re saying, first, is that “2-3 students were able to escape to safety” at Sandy Hook because Adam Lanza had to change out his 30-round magazines. What does that have to do with school security?

Your second point seems to be that because “lunatic” Nikolas Cruz wasn’t lucid enough to open the hurricane-proof window that he couldn’t shoot out, some amorphous “law enforcement” somehow “believes” that the window “may” have prevented “some deaths”; and that, consequently, not-really-secured vestibules might nevertheless slow up the next – or, more accurately, the first – D-64 school shooter enough that fewer kids will be shot.

As we pointed out in the post, however, a not-really-secured vestibule doesn’t stop any student with an automatic weapon concealed in his/her backpack, or the mom or dad with a concealed weapon under a coat or in a tote. And what about those sitting-duck students streaming out the door at school’s end, or romping on the playground at recess? How do not-really-secured vestibules protect them?

No shooter needs to enter a District 64 school to kill a lot of school children. All the shooter has to do is stand outside the entrance at the end of the school day and start pulling the trigger, or walk up to the playground at recess and start pulling the trigger. How will secured vestibules and SRO’s protect those kids.

EDITOR’S NOTE: They won’t.

Ms. Hall’s post and most of the comments are of the typically mindless “don’t just stand there, do something” variety. I can see the D64 board and administration bringing back RETA for another dog-and-pony show with a room full of Ms. Halls demanding that no expense be spared to keep their kid safe, even though their kid is at greater risk of harm going to and coming from school than at school – as shown by the kids who have been killed by cars while riding their bikes around town.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re missing Rahm’s point, Mr. B: It’s not about legitimate security but about the mere appearance of security. Or to use another metaphor, it’s not about the steak but about the sizzle.

The point is security measures bullet proof doors panic buttons etc won’t prevent crazies from shooting g up schools but wil make them less lethal. Fewer casualties even in your ill shoot up kids at recess scenario or in line. If there are bullet proof doors for kids to run into -less die.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “[B]ullet proof doors” that open outward – as they are required to do – could just as easily prevent the playground kids from getting back in the building, making them even easier targets for a playground shooter.

But if you’re serious about playground security, show up at a School Board meeting and demand a bullet-proof wall around the playgrounds. And then come up with a way to protect the kids from being picked off as they leave the building after school.

The other point was -you state this can’t happen in our safe city BUT you fail to acknowledge the police arrest last year of the student posting gun on social media and mentioning going to Maine South with it. Kid was removed from school for year. Lunatic in Florida was expelled, posted gun stuff social media and the did what he did. Park ridge is not immune. Something needs to be done to be and feel safe

EDITOR’S NOTE: We didn’t state that it “can’t happen” in Park Ridge. Our point is that not-really-secured vestibules WITHOUT METAL DETECTORS and SRO’s are ineffective and not worth the money.

Gotcha. Lets not try and make it harder for the (oops almost happened last year here in our city) perpetrator because my tax bill will go up. Instead I guess you are advocating “thoughts and prayers” or the cost of possibly saving a life or two is too much to bear.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s not about the “tax bill,” it’s about wasting millions of dollars on things that won’t make a real difference – except for the bottom lines of RETA Security and FGM architects.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Seriously? A t.v. news clown in a blazer running around unable to open locked “bullet-RESISTANT” – not bullet-PROOF – doors with his bare hands while being monitored by Sheriff’s police “ONLY 10 MILES AWAY” is your idea of state-of-the-art security?

Even driving at 90 mph it would take the Sheriff’s cops at least 7 minutes to get to the school – which is 3 minutes more than it took Cruz to kill 17.

And unless the books those kids are holding in front of their faces are made of Kevlar, GFL with that.

yes Nothing will happen here and nothing can help save lives so let’s do nothing despite school shootings continuing to occur and despite our own similar threat last year.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not saying do nothing, we’re saying don’t do stupid and wasteful things that create a false sense of security – like not-really-secured vestibules, or SROs. If you want security, then you need metal detectors, bullet-proof walls around playgrounds, etc. And even then, those won’t stop a shooter from picking off the kids walking out the front door at day’s end.

This is one of your normal tactics…..keep moving the ball around when the real answer is you want to do nothing. In a post above you argue that vestibules will not work w/o SRO’s and metal detectors. So now you want SRO’s. OF course you don’t. You are already on record as being totally against them. If they ever got close to seriously considering metal detectors you would write a piece about why they won’t do any good either and so on and so on.

Rather than being direct and stating that you do not want to do any of the above period you jab and poke as if this were a game.

You site a post from the other blog as the starting point of your post. That referenced post originated less than 24 hours after 17 kids and teachers were murdered in a school and town that in most ways is very much like PR. THe thread represents comments from parents who have or are about to send their kids off to schools that as far as I can tell is not any more “secure” than the school in Florida (you think we have any better handle on mental illness in Illinois that Florida??). My god. If a father or mother were not a bit frazzled and focused on their child’s safety that day they would have no heart. But rather than have a little empathy for where these comments were coming from you instead find another name to call…..these people (who are your neighbors by the way) have phobias….that’s it!! Parents worried or even scared the school day after they find out 17 kids were murdered at a school by a classmate have phobias!?! (If they use the library that would make them freeloaders with phobias). I think your a father, right? You really can’t understand why some parents would be reacting or even in some cases over reacting to this event the day after??

EDITOR’S NOTE: We never have said that we think SRO’s make any sense – even before the one in Parkland went MIA during the shooting (and Morning Joe and Mika considered it understandable because the shooter had more firepower than the SRO).

We consistently have voiced our opinion that it’s stupid to engage in a kind of “arms race” against something that is unlikely to happen here. But if we’re going to let some people’s phobias drive the decision-making, we should not half-a** it like we’re doing with the overly-expensive, not-really-secured vestibules If that means turning our schools into impregnable fortresses with metal detectors, bullet-proof walls around playgrounds, and anything else that soothes whatever nightmares haunt the Chicken Little Brigade, let that debate begin!

Meanwhile, any parent who needed a Parkland in order to be “focused on their child’s safety” – after events like Columbine, Va. Tech, NIU and Sandy Hook – might have a heart but no brain. Because if not-really-secured vestibules are so darn crucial, why are they continuing to put their kids in harm’s way EVERY DAY by sending them to those D-64 schools without such vestibules?

In the interest of calling a spade a spade, we’re calling that Concerned Homeowners post exactly what it was intended to be: An attempt by Ms. Hall and friends to intimidate any D-64 Board member who might have had, or may still have, the audacity to think and say that academic underachievement is a bigger concern at D-64 than under-security. And to stampede them into even more knee-jerk not-really-secured (but expensive) purchases.

Yes, this editor is a father of four sons who are now adults. But all four of them were in grammar school when the Columbine shooting occurred in April 1999. By the time the Va. Tech shooting occurred in April 2007 and the NIU shooting occurred on Valentine’s Day 2008, the older two were already in college. And the last two were in college for Sandy Hook in Dec 2012. When I talked to them about each of those tragedies I told them that no place in this world is absolutely safe – whether from people who want to do them harm or from arbitrary natural disasters – so they need to do their best to avoid trouble when possible, and to deal with it when it can’t be avoided. And I told them to never let fear control them.

Hopefully, they have learned that lesson.

You, on the other hand, are too afraid to even sign your name to your comment, so I can understand where you’re coming from.

Thanks for pointing out the absurdity of these spare no expense security charades. Kids on the playground are the softest of targets, and kids streaming out the door at the end of the school day are like an arcade game for school shooter.

We’ve never had a school shooting, but we have had a kid killed by lightning at Northeast Park about 20 years ago. So the truth is that its more likely that a kid will be struck by lightning than killed by a school shooter.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Scott Wade was 20 when he was killed by a lightning strike at Northeast Park in June 1996, so he was a college student when that occurred. But we concur in the gist of your comment.

Silent alarm panic buttons in classrooms or fobs for teachers or doors in hall that can shut with release of magnet (like at Stevenson high?)

Or I’ll play along with you: is the cost of bullet proof wall around playground justified to you? Wouldn’t bullet proof doors and indoor recess be better? Or how about kids are safe while in the school is better than not being safe in or out of the school. Did sandy hook or Lakeland happy during recess? Why didn’t those shooters wait for morning line up or recess?

I guess you want to mention metal detectors and walls around playground bc parents won’t want to make the school look like a prison or modern day courthouse or airport -but reality is there are other measures that would have been helpful in saving lives in sandy hook or Lakeland and other schools even around us (Stevenson) have already instituted some.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hey, if Stevenson High has them they must be good, right? (Too bad Maine South can’t match Stevenson’s academics – but could that be because the Stevenson kids feel so much safer?)

We’d love to hear “indoor recess” publicly debated. But if that doesn’t fly, are you suggesting we leave those playground kids as sitting ducks? Just because Sandy Hook and Parkland didn’t happen at recess doesn’t mean they couldn’t have – based on the same defective Chicken Little reasoning that just because an in-school shooting has never happened here doesn’t mean it couldn’t.

If you expect the protection of a fortress, you probably need to build a fortress.

The most important way lives could have been saved at Sandy Hook is if Adam Lanza’s screw-loose, coddling, enabling mother didn’t buy him all those guns, especially after the FBI visited her when Lanza hacked into a government database; or if the Newtown Police Dept. had done something when a resident reported to them in 2008 that Lanza talked about his plan to use his Bushmaster assault weapon to kill children at Sandy Hook Elementary School and his mother (per a NYT 10.26.17 article by Maya Salam).

But we’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that since Lanza shot his way through the locked doors at Sandy Hook, not-really-secured vestibules wouldn’t have slowed him down much.

HAHAHAHAHA… say your are not saying do nothing and then you proceed to argue for EXACTLY that!!!!! Toooooo funny!!

So you are saying that you want us to spend your tax dollars to build a wall (how freakin’ ironic is that??) and for metal detectors even though in your last sentence you argue it won’t work??

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t believe the threat of a shooter walking into any local school is appreciably more likely than a plane slamming into Maine South. But if the School Board is going to pander to those of you in the Chicken Little Brigade, then the Board should spend the money to add REAL security, not stupid, expensive not-really-secured vestibules that can be breached laughably (since you apparently like to laugh) easily by disturbed kids and parents alike.

It’s funny how you forgot the lecture you gave your sons when PADS was the topic of the day. Suddenly the safety and security of the 700 children of Saint Paul and the town became a huge issue. Folks should go back and read some of those old posts. You poured gas on the fire and used parents concerns to your advantage when it supported your position.

On the one hand it’s “no place in the world is absolutely safe (very true by the way)” and on the other it’s…..”what if they leave a needle in the gym, ahhhhhhh!!!”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The arguments against PADS I shared with my sons are the same ones I shared with the rest of this community, samples of which are contained in this blog’s posts on 07.11.08 and 07.14.08: (1) The PADS model of schlepping the homeless from town to town, night after night, sucks; and (2) if PADS was going to happen in Park Ridge, it should happen at the Park Ridge Senior Center.

But we believe that the best idea just happened to be one this editor advanced, both at public meetings and in our 06.09.08 post: Rent the homeless motel rooms for the entire 28-week PADS “season.” Giving people the same room (with maid service) night after night for 28 weeks, however, didn’t advance PADS’ interest or the interest of its lackeys in the Park Ridge Ministerial Association – which is why that idea never got off the ground.

and all of the references and reporting about concerns for the SAFETY of SPC kids?? I suppose I just imagined that, right?? I notice you never called them chicken littles. Did they have a homeless phobia?? If it supports your desired result it suddenly becomes a legitimate point….just another tool in the tool box. If it does not support what you want….oh well.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our objections to PADS extended to every school/church site, not just SPC. But if you want to point out specific language in specific posts, we’ll treat your comment as something more than your imagination.

We now know from the latest reports out of Florida that 4 cops without AR-15s are afraid to confront 1 shooter with an AR-15. Does that mean any SROs need to carry AR-15s in our schools?

EDITOR’S NOTE: That would seem to conflict with the image of “Officer Friendly” being portrayed by the supporters of SROs.

For once I agree with you. Security upgrades, no matter how prison-like, aren’t the answer. Arming teachers is another insane idea that no one should be seriously entertaining. Banning semi-automatic weapons and reducing the absurd number of guns in this country — along with making them harder to access — is the only way to stop gun violence.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What’s your proposal for rounding up the estimated 10-15 million AR-15s and similar semi-automatic rifles, not counting the millions more semi-automatic pistols out there?

Using Franklin as an example; how many entrances, access doors, are there? How do we protect them all? If two people are involved in a plot to shoot up the school, what’s stopping one for opening a door to another? Also, all the school windows are at ground level meaning it is not even necessary to enter the school.

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