EDITOR'S NOTE: The following was written and provided to NRA by Eric Kaiser, Chief of Police for the Jourdanton (Texas) Police Department and a Master Texas Peace Officer.
As a career law enforcement officer, I can tell you that there are no shortage of individuals out there who are ready and willing to teach and train you and your team on a countless number of topics related to keeping the public safe. “Experts” abound and sometimes it takes a flashlight and a roadmap to find those programs that can really add valuable insight and functional tools to your toolbox.
With that in mind, let me hit the rewind button for a moment and take you back to 2016. As a leader at my agency I am typically tasked with sorting through programs that our officers can absorb and implement in a fashion that makes spending valuable training hours on, a wise investment for our department. And it was in that frame of mind that I began the first (of many) conversations with NRA Field Representative Liz Foley and NRA School Shield Program Director Sheila Brantley about a school safety initiative that had not received the fanfare it deserved up to that point. What I would soon learn is that the NRA School Shield program was one of the most comprehensive and insightful programs that a school or law enforcement agency could participate in.
Knee jerk reactions -- politicians are good at them. Don’t believe me? Just wait for the next act of terrorism or mass violence to occur and watch those who sit in their proverbial ivory towers rail about how many new laws are needed in the interest of “keeping us safe.” The reality is that you usually can’t legislate morality into someone who has ill intent. You know this and I know this; lawmakers often don’t.
In an era of terrorism, school shootings and acts of mass violence, what has been proven to work is a well measured, well thought-out plan that addresses the issue from several perspectives. Here in South Texas I thought hard about how to develop a well-rounded, practical, yet effective solution for the threats our schools face, but after these initial conversations with Liz and Sheila, I realized I didn’t have to. The heavy lifting had already been done: NRA School Shield had already been rolled out.
For those not familiar with NRA School Shield, let me pull back the curtain for a moment on the most comprehensive and cost effective way to initiate both law enforcement and school officials on making their campuses a difficult target for criminals. NRA School Shield doesn’t reinvent the wheel. What those at the NRA have done is take various concepts that have been proven to work and fused them together into a holistic approach to protecting our kids and school staff.
NRA School Shield took the best practices for hardening a school campus, reacting to violent incidents and mitigating the aftermath and produced an easy to understand, real-world system that any school can implement.
The program centers on the “vulnerability assessment.” A process through which schools can identify potential risks and weaknesses that could have negative effects on a campus. By identifying these deficiencies, decision makers can properly allocate resources to reduce the threats and potential dangers that schools face daily.
But NRA School Shield goes further. It brings together stakeholders from the law enforcement community and education field. Individuals who look at problems from two distinct perspectives and gets them on the same page. Teaching those who we entrust with our children to “Detect, Delay, Respond and Recover” is a framework that elevates the security of any campus that puts NRA School Shield into practice.
If the program stopped there it would be an incredible program for any school to adopt… but it doesn’t. NRA School Shield goes above and beyond by working with their partner school districts to obtain grant funds to assist in elevating physical security measures and taking the often high cost of school security off the back of the local tax payer. Via private grants, NRA School Shield can help reduce the likelihood that a criminal can carry out a violent crime on the premises that hold our nation’s most valuable asset: our children.
So what does an all-inclusive school safety initiative like this cost a school district or police department? In the world of law enforcement this type of enterprise can easily costs tens of thousands of dollars (if not more) for a single agency. But for those police departments and school systems who have partnered with NRA School Shield there has been zero out of pocket expense -- not a penny.
As the first Police Chief in Texas to sponsor an NRA School Shield training event, I can attest that it is a no-nonsense, effective way that any school system can escalate the safety and security of their facilities.
To borrow a line from incoming NRA President Lt. Col. Oliver North, “School Shield has already made world class security resources available to hundreds of schools. It’s free of politics and it’s free of charge.”