Thursday, April 26, 2018
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:

Acceptance.

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 fightingchancesolutions.com.

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.

Comments
Florida has one of the highest rates of fatal hit-and-run crashes, study finds

Florida has one of the highest rates of fatal hit-and-run crashes, study finds

Florida is among the top three states with the highest per capita rates of fatal hit-and-run crashes, a new study published on Thursday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found.From 2006 to 2016, the organization examined hit-and-run crashes in...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Arrest made in stolen St. Petersburg car with baby inside

Arrest made in stolen St. Petersburg car with baby inside

ST PETERSBURG — A man accused of stealing a car with a baby inside earlier this week was arrested early Thursday morning when police spotted him in another stolen car. Rashad Webb, 19, no known address, was arrested around 2 a.m. after officers spott...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Suspect identified in string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City

Suspect identified in string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City

PLANT CITY — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has identified the suspect in a string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City.Deputies are searching for Majar L. Jones, 43, of Orlando.Jones may still be in a stolen 2002 green Ford F-150 with...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

TAMPA — A customer visited Wingstop on Sunday night to pick-up his order. What happened next was off-menu:Robert Williams said he suffered second-degree burns on his back and legs after a Wingstop employee threw hot oil on him during a scuffle.Willia...
Published: 04/26/18
FHP identifies driver in crash that killed

FHP identifies driver in crash that killed "smiling" teen

TRINITY — Friends said what they’ll remember the most about Lillia Morris is that she was always smiling.The 17-year-old Mitchell High School junior was killed Tuesday when a sport-utility vehicle ran a red light on State Road 54 and slammed into the...
Published: 04/26/18
Pasco deputies a hit on ‘LivePD’ television show

Pasco deputies a hit on ‘LivePD’ television show

TRINITY — On any given night, the A&E television show Live PD showcases law enforcement officers from a handful of cities across the country. It gives viewers an unfiltered police ride-along from the safety of their own couches and a peek into how of...
Published: 04/26/18
For some Pasco residents, recent Sheriff’s Office changes aren’t enough

For some Pasco residents, recent Sheriff’s Office changes aren’t enough

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco recently appointed a constitutional law advisor, saying he wanted to ensure good officer conduct and provide a new channel for citizen complaints.Two local human rights organizations, however, say th...
Published: 04/26/18
For senior week, Lakewood High School must mourn a senior

For senior week, Lakewood High School must mourn a senior

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood High School principal Erin Savage has never planned a candlelight vigil. But this week, Savage must learn how to do so as her school mourns the tragic death of one of its graduating seniors.Bryson Welton-Williams, 18, died T...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Pasco corporal who took down student on video now cleared (w/video)

Pasco corporal who took down student on video now cleared (w/video)

LAND O’LAKES — Kayla Peña filled up her water bottle then returned to her lunch table at Sunlake High School when she heard a commotion in the cafeteria on Tuesday afternoon.A female student was riled up, walking back and forth, Peña said, screaming ...
Published: 04/25/18

Man on Clearwater Beach pulled from water, hospitalized

CLEARWATER — A 33-year-old man pulled from the water north of Pier 60 was hospitalized Wednesday afternoon.Clearwater Fire & Rescue spokesman Rob Shaw said a bystander noticed the Dunedin man, who has not been identified, was in trouble and brought h...
Published: 04/25/18