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Editorial: Schools should perform due diligence with volunteer guards

By Editorial Board
On April 18, 2013

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Imagine for a moment that you are a parent of an elementary school or you have followed all the Sandy Hook news and are eager to see new safety regulations at your child's school. But while the school administrators are dragging their feet, you see a man in camouflage standing outside the school. Is your reaction to question why he's there? Or to assume he's here on an official, or volunteer basis to defend your children?
In Hughson, Calif., most parents and staff applauded Craig Pusley's volunteer service when he showed up in fatigues for "guard duty." Parents thanked him for his work and some even went to go buy him coffee. The next day he showed up in civilian clothing for his second day of guard duty but left early on when some discrepancies in his military service were noticed.
Among those discrepancies included the simple fact that Craig Pusley was not a Marine, did not serve overseas and was dismissed after less than a year. He was also not a reservist. Apparently, Pusley originally claimed to be responding to a Facebook announcement to veterans to help protect schools on the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.
As shocking as this information was, it's far from an isolated incident. Another former Marine showed up at his childrens' school in Nashville wearing his uniform. Former Marines, however, are prohibited from wearing their uniforms in public except of a list of official and formal events. This particular Marine, however, was not asked to stop "defending" the school.
This unauthorized, unofficial system of simply letting official-looking personnel show up at schools is not a sustainable or a safe system. If anything, it exacerbates the issue by providing an amazingly false sense of security to an opening that can be exploited by the exact people against whom we are hoping to defend. The logic here seems to be, "If he looks official, he must be," combined with, "Would a man in uniform ever lie?"
The principles of the Stanford Prison Experiment can be observed in then woman picking up her first grader from school: "In the beginning, I thought it was a good idea, because as a parent I was concerned about safety. He seemed like a nice guy."
Security is enticing, especially where children are concerned. And it should be desired. But we should not let this system go on unchecked until another someone else exploits it or brings about another disaster. False security only prioritzies apathy over actual security.  

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