Written by: EV
Armed with AR-15 rifles, police burst into the Winter Haven, Jewett Middle Academy near Tampa, Florida during an unannounced school shooting drill. The officers moved from classroom to classroom, guns drawn, pretending to look for active shooters. The school resource officer involved in the drill, Derrick Doles, was reported to have been carrying a loaded .45-caliber pistol.
Chief Charlie Bird said that parents were notified of the drill by email, however this was after the drill had taken place. No one had been warned beforehand, including teachers, and students were terrified for their lives. Some students told parents that officers pointed guns at them, and Lauren Marionneaux, a seventh-grader at the school stated, “We actually thought that someone was going to come in there and kill us.”
Police claim that these types of drills are “vital in order to evaluate not only law enforcement response, but more importantly to educate the students and school officials in case an actual event were to occur.” Polk County Public Schools spokesman Jason Gearey defended the drill, saying, “Unfortunately, no one gets an advanced notice of real life emergencies. We don’t want students to be scared, but we need them to be safe.”
None-the-less, many parents expressed their outrage afterwards, and the middle school principal, Jacquelyn Moore, has been suspended pending an internal investigation. The school district’s Superintendent, Kathryn Leroy, said that she never ordered an “active shooting drill be performed with students present and officers having weapons in their hands,” and she has publicly apologized and promised it will never happen again. From now on, parents will be notified before a lockdown drill at school.
Derrick Doles, the Winter Haven Police Department school resource officer who held the loaded .45-caliber pistol, and helped plan the drill, has been taken off that unit. He has been transferred to the patrol unit, and will not face further disciplinary action, said department spokeswoman, Jamie Brown.
“We went over the whole thing with the school resource officer and the other officer involved, and they understood the error in their judgment,” Brown said. “We have looked at everything and we’ve done everything we need to do.”
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Drumm, Sara. News Chief. Nov 18, 2014. (http://www.timeoutpolk.com/article/20141118/NEWSCHIEF/141119425/0/NEWS?tc=ar)
Marciana, Jackson. Counter Current News. Nov 16, 2014. (http://countercurrentnews.com/2014/11/no-notice-given-by-cops/#)
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