Protecting.

Samain                                                                       Stent Moon

October, the healing moon. November, the recovery moon. December, the stent moon. A quarter of a year with an intense focus on keeping Kate alive and then making her well. Well, well worth it.

Iloveyouguys2

Last night, an odd, sad, disturbing, necessary evening. If you’ve ever encountered preparedness training for a business, school, or place of worship, the four medallion image above may be familiar to you. It’s now a nationwide safety preparedness program used in thousands of schools, places of work and worship. But it’s origination is local and by local I mean Bailey, Colorado.

iloveemilyThe Platte Canyon hostage situation. Platte Canyon is the long, deep slash between two mountain ranges created by the South Fork of the Platte River. It runs from Baily to roughly the Kenosha Pass. Hwy. 285 runs its whole length. Outside Bailey headed toward Kenosha Pass is Platte Canyon High School. In 2006 a gunman, Duane Morrison, took hostages, all girls. One girl, Emily Keyes, had to speak to the police for Morrison, since he refused to speak to them.

IloveyouguysEmily’s father got to the high school using an old mountain goat trail. 285 had both police barriers and a huge traffic jam. When he arrived, he asked if any person could text Emily. Someone did. She texted back, “I love you guys.” A second text went unanswered. She was dead with a bullet wound to the head.

In her memory her father, John-Michael, and her mother, Ellen created the ILoveyouguys foundation. It is responsible for the Standard Response Protocol, the four medallions above representing its four responses to a crisis.

I learned all this last night at Congregation Beth Evergreen as part an emergency response training. The Squirrel Hill shootings in Pittsburgh heightened the synagogue’s awareness and the board decided to review how we protect those who worship or come to the synagogue. The man who runs the Jeffco Sheriff’s Jefferson County School District School Safety program spoke.

iloveyou3m He started with a tagline: The world we live in isn’t scary, but it is full of uncertainty. He had a reassuring manner, years of experience in protection, and a common sense approach to security. He recommended CBE put a 3M product on the windows, Safety and Security film. “You have a lot of glass.” This film ensures that bullets fired through the glass will not shatter it. The bullets pass through but the glass itself remains intact overall. He also recommended blinds on the windows so a shooter couldn’t see inside and a really good locking system for the sanctuary doors. All of these things made sense to me.

I was there as a teacher in the religious school. We did no drills last night, but we will at some point in the future.

My overall response to this was sadness. Kids in school today learn how to self-evacuate, how to lock, turn out the lights, and hide. They learn how to run like quail if an active shooter is among them. That is, scatter in all different directions. My god. Duck and cover from the fifties, which I do not recall ever doing, seems abstract and silly in light of these very real and immediate threats.

sadnessThat sadness has a special resonance here since Columbine was the ur-school shooting. John, the speaker, said he’d been at a conference in D.C. in the last month where a full day and a half was devoted to Columbine. Why? So many of the school shooters still refer back to Columbine for inspiration, for tips. It’s still relevant. Not only has Colorado had Columbine and the Platte Canyon hostage situation, but we’ve also had the Aurora Theater shooting.

This is, for some, still the wild west where a sidearm and a strong will can solve many problems. It’s also unfortunately a hotbed of libertarian leaning, no government treading on me folks. If they get cranked up by the news, or by groups of white supremacists, or by their neighborhood anti-semite, they can choose to act by heading out to the nearest public school or synagogue, taking their firearms along.

 

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