Friday, December 15, 2017
Public safety

Bulletproof backpacks, blankets are sad accessories for school shootings

It has been 15 years since two heavily armed teens walked into Columbine High and obliterated the notion that classrooms might somehow be immune to life's horrors.

Since then, the mayhem has only multiplied. Thirty-two killed at Virginia Tech. Twenty-six at Sandy Hook Elementary. We have read about dozens of remorseless killers and even more defenseless victims. School shootings have become so commonplace, they have seemingly lost much of their shock value.

For those who believe in the process of grief, I fear that we may have reached the most disturbing stage of all:


News item: Touting technology and materials equivalent to protection given to U.S. soldiers in combat, an Oklahoma company recently unveiled a product called the Bodyguard Blanket. The blanket can be fastened on the back of a child in the event of a school intruder. The cost is approximately $1,000 per blanket. Preorders have already exceeded the manufacturer's "wildest'' expectations according to the Huffington Post.

We have had years to talk about this. Years to act on this. A child in preschool at the time of Columbine is now in college. And still we have nothing approaching a solution.

The antigun crowd sees legislation as the answer. Bans on assault weapons. Background checks for weapons purchased online and at gun shows.

The Second Amendment crowd sees more guns as the only deterrent. Armed employees in public school classrooms. College students allowed to bring weapons on campus.

Meanwhile, two more school shootings were reported in the last 10 days.

News item: Colombia's Miguel Caballero, who makes bulletproof clothing in designer styles for politicians and business executives around the world, has begun producing safety vests and backpacks for schoolchildren. The backpacks, which come in pink, red and blue with child-appropriate designs and cost about $300, were developed after parents began requesting them in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Caballero told the Washington Post it is a uniquely American product.

There is a governmental hypocrisy to this issue that is stunning. And sad. And, if you're paying attention, infuriating.

Legislators eager to please the National Rifle Association continue to push the idea that more guns on campus is a good thing. That the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Whether you believe that or not, you have to at least wonder:

Why isn't that true in government buildings?

Why, for instance, do our lawmakers in Florida forbid guns in the Legislative chambers?

News item: Concerned about security procedures at their middle school, teachers in Iowa have developed a device that can be fastened to a door's closer arm making it more difficult for an intruder to enter a classroom. The product, known as the Sleeve, is available for $65 at

Entrepreneurs have jumped into the void. Local school districts have paid for school resource officers and taken measures to secure school entrances. Parents have done their part to protect their children the best ways they know how.

It is the politicians who have dragged their feet. In Florida, it is the folks in Tallahassee who have dallied and dickered while danger has existed one trigger away.

Almost as if they have accepted the inevitability of it all.

News item: The University of Maryland Eastern Shore spent about $60,000 to buy 200 bulletproof whiteboards for professors. The manufacturer told the Baltimore Sun the product was a last resort designed to buy a teacher extra time in a shooting scenario.


Hudson pedestrian killed while crossing U.S. 19

HUDSON — A Hudson man was killed Thursday night while crossing U.S. 19.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 59-year-old Gerald Berube was crossing the northbound lanes of U.S. 19 north of Stahl Drive around 6:40 p.m. when he walked into the path ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Missing Child Alert issued for Port St. Lucie girl, 17

Missing Child Alert issued for Port St. Lucie girl, 17

A Florida Missing Child Alert has been issued for a 17-year-old Port St. Lucie girl who was last seen on Thursday.Heaven Flores was last seen near the 1400 block of SW Cashmere Boulevard in Port St. Lucie, according to the Florida Department of Law E...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Bicyclist killed in Seminole Heights crash; portion of E Hillsborough Avenue closed

TAMPA — A bicyclist was killed early Friday morning in a crash in Seminole Heights.Tampa Police say the bicyclist was struck by a car just after 12:15 a.m.Eastbound E Hillsborough Avenue is closed from N Florida Avenue to N Central Avenue while polic...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa police seek ‘person of interest’ in Dec. 3 homicide

Tampa police seek ‘person of interest’ in Dec. 3 homicide

TAMPA — Police are seeking a "person of interest" who they believe has information about a Dec. 3 drive-by shooting that killed a 22-year-old man.Police are searching for Anan Motilal, 25. He stands about 5-foot-10 and weighs 180 pounds. He may have ...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Pinellas Park officer stuns middle school student with Taser

PINELLAS PARK — A school resource officer stunned a middle school student with a Taser while trying to break up a fight between her and another female student on Thursday, police said.Neither the Pinellas Park officer nor the students involved in the...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir was source of family strife before arrest

Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir was source of family strife before arrest

An heir to a local flooring company charged with failing to report the death of a young woman last year has a troubled criminal history and was a source of strife in his family business, according to court records.Robert Butler III, 52, was arrested ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Horrified friends watch screaming woman driven to her death in Plant City

Horrified friends watch screaming woman driven to her death in Plant City

PLANT CITY — Jonathon Adams heard a scream, "like a dog getting run over by a car," then saw a minivan come tearing around the corner with a woman he knew dangling out of the passenger side.It was the start of a deadly sequence of events Dec. 8 that ...
Published: 12/14/17
Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

DADE CITY — A 25-year-old man wanted in connection with the attempted robbery of a taxi driver in Lakeland turned himself in late Wednesday night after being prompted by his mother, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Edner Dely of Dade Ci...
Published: 12/14/17

Deputies: Fleeing suspect shoots, injures dog as he runs through yards

DOVER — While fleeing from deputies, a man shot a dog inside a fenced yard Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said they were attempting to pull over a vehicle that might have been stolen near Milagro Court and Bl...
Published: 12/14/17

Amtrak train strikes, kills 60-year-old woman in Lakeland

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a 60-year-old woman who was hit by an Amtrak train on Thursday.The woman was struck at 12:30 p.m. in the railroad intersection of Highway 92 East and Fairway Avenue in Lakeland, deputies ...
Published: 12/14/17