The question will haunt all of us forever is whether the shooting at the Appalachian School of Law been prevented. Some have said that is not a fair question because hindsight is 20-20, what questions are fair to ask? When there are warnings of violence and no action is taken, we have a right to ask, “Why?” When the death of innocent people occurs, family and friends left behind do have the right to know all the facts and ask, “Why?”
Violence in the home, violence in the work place, and violence in the schools should be a paramount concern to all of us. But, somehow, this concern gets lost in the aftermath of the emotions following a tragedy.
In the case of the shootings in Grundy, individuals in position of authority apparently never bothered to ask such questions. It never seemed to occur to them to ask, “Could this have been prevented; how and what can we do to prevent further tragedies like the shooting at the law school?”
No one disputes that Peter Odighizuwa had a troubled existence. As we have seen, his time in Grundy and at the law school was marked by repeated acts of violent behavior on the school grounds and in the community.
In our examination of the law school shooting, we have to consider whether it is unreasonable to ask why the school wasn’t prepared for an emergency? An Internet search based on the words, “schools, liability, security” turned up over 60,000 hits! Perhaps the most surprising was the number of private security firms who specialize in school security—from grade school through university level.
What The Experts Say
The one theme that was consistent with all these security specialists is that most violence can be prevented if schools will heed the warning signs—“Readiness, Response, Recovery.” The types of services these security firms offer include:
1. Conducting school safety evaluations;
2. Designing security programs to meet a school’s needs;
3. Formulating an operational emergency plan (including responses to intruders and weapons on campus);
4.Providing on-site security training; and,
5. Linking schools to private and public security organizations to ensure a given school has continuing access to the latest school security technologies and theories.
All of this information was readily available to the Appalachian School of Law long before Odighizuwa arrived on the scene. All of the information about these school security services was a click away on the computer. The Appalachian School of Law apparently never raised a finger to the keyboard in the interest of security.
“Laying Down the Law: A Review of Trends in Liability Lawsuits," an article by Teresa Anderson, a senior editor at Security Magazine, lists the most common areas for crime: parking lots, retail stores, schools, exterior common areas, apartments, bars, and schools. Her study was based on 1,086 reported property liability crimes between 1992 and 2001—all predating the shooting at the Appalachian School of Law. Her study further showed that assault and battery made up 42 percent of the crimes, rape and assault another 26 percent, and wrongful death accounted for another 15 percent of the crimes. Some 83 percent of liability crimes in the study were violent. Her study indicates schools are a common area for such crimes. Was the Appalachian School of Law not aware of these facts? If not, why not? The staff and faculty are highly educated and the very nature of their profession—the law—centers on crimes and bringing people to justice. Ms. Anderson’s statistics only heightened our need to ask, “Why didn’t the school have security?” (To be continued)