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CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR AT SCHOOL SHOULD BE TREATED AS A CRIME

More principal, less police

Feb 2., editorial

As a high school teacher for more than 30 years and now retired, I find it interesting though unsettling that your editorial writer doesn't understand the purpose and function of the school resource officers.

Let me begin by stating that the necessity for a uniformed police person in any school is really the crime. That being said, sadly, it has become absolutely necessary.

But let's lay the problem where it really belongs, on the parents. Children need to be taught that physically attacking another person, robbing or stealing, being involved in drugs, threatening or striking a teacher or school administrator or bringing dangerous weapons to school are crimes punishable by arrest, trial and possible incarceration. Then there can be no surprise, no outrage and no public condemnation when the resource officer acting in his official capacity merely does his job.

In the Riviera encounter, the students committed a crime (actually several crimes) though not felonious, serious enough for police intervention. At that point, the police's authority supersedes that of school administrators, yes, even that of the parents.

The perpetrators were then removed to prevent further interruption of the learning process of the other students. Usually in a case of misdemeanors like those at Riviera Middle School, a "station adjustment" is made, no formal charges are filed, restitution is agreed upon, the students are admonished and released to their parents.

School resource officers usually have college degrees or many hours of study in child psychology, juvenile justice and the like.

The suppositions the editorial writer makes are based entirely on fantasy, a perfect world and scare tactics. They serve only to undermine the police's image and authority, and that should be treated as a crime!

Everett Melnick, St. Petersburg

More principal, less police - Feb. 2, editorial

Officers are there to protect children

Resource officers were placed in the schools to protect students from harm from other students and to give counsel to the students who needed guidance.

In the incident cited in the editorial, the students involved were not "unruly" but committed a strong-arm robbery, and all parents of the students involved should have been notified by the principal.

Instead of passing legislation regarding resource officers, it would be simpler to remove all the officers from the schools, give full responsibility to the principals, and have the officers on call, after the parents have been notified. Will the officers be removed from the schools? No. Why?

Because the parents want their children protected from the strong-arm robbers.

Judge Robert Evans should be informed that this was a strong-arm robbery, not a playground fight, and the officer should not worry if it "screwed" up their lives. It would be up to the courts to decide what to do with them.

Van E. Vergetis, Holiday

More principal, less police - Feb. 2, editorial

Misdirected sympathy

Gee, after reading your spin about police and principals in our public schools, even the child who got bullied and robbed must feel bad about what happened to the two "victims."

Bill Hicks, St. Petersburg

Cut scholarship booty - Feb. 2, letter

Meeting a need

Regarding the letter writer's response to your original story (Fla. colleges may shrink, Jan. 24), I am also concerned with Florida universities' financial situation and projected holds on enrollment. However, the suggestion to eliminate Bright Futures Scholarships from the deserving students who have qualified by meeting the requirements should not be perceived as the answer.

There is a wide gap between the few students who do not require financial assistance and those eligible for "need-based" grants. Bright Futures Scholarships are awarded toward tuition costs and often are the only assistance available to those students.

Dorothy Walsh, Tampa

Treatment of veterans

Military myths

Several recent letters and commentaries have bemoaned the shoddy treatment given this generation of GIs wounded in body and spirit in foreign wars. The writers say they owe "their lives and freedom" to young people, who enlist as warriors for reasons as various as fun and war games, "free" tuition, and a chance to "become a man (or woman)." I'm a Vietnam vet, and excuse me, but this is just deja vu all over again.

Neither Vietnam nor Iraq regime change nor Afghanistan nor Somalia were, in genesis or on the ground, about "preserving freedom" or "protecting the people back home," except in press releases and floor speeches in favor of these geopolitical exercises in futility. Citizens at home today gladly yield up the freedoms hard-won from England by the Founding Fathers for the myth of "homeland security." Almost all successful interdiction of terrorist activity is via police work and human intelligence, not trillion-dollar weapons programs and invasions that just breed more terrorists.

Young people who don a national uniform and go in harm's way deserve better than they get. The military routinely breaches contracts that induce enlistment, and our government cheaps out on veterans' care whenever public outrage diminishes. But don't thank me and other vets for preserving the weepy-eyed "freedoms" you really value so little. That's not what we did, or do.

You folks buy into the lies and mythology that bring on the battles. Just give us a fair chance at getting back to some kind of normal, after serving the real interests of our military-industrial nation, and seeing too much of the worst that humans can do to one another.

Jon McPhee, St. Petersburg

First, protect us

To paraphrase a long-dead famous author, "What fools these Americans be." Some 99 percent of the rhetoric used by the candidates in the primaries here in Florida has concerned the economy.

What happened to our fight against radical Islamists? A glitch in the economy will not kill me and my family. A glitch in our war against Islamic extremists will! Let's get our priorities back in order. First, protect me and my family, then make sure we can buy groceries!

James H. Predmore, Pinellas Park

Genealogy

Record your stories

Thank you for your excellent coverage of genealogy and scrapbooking in the LifeTimessection. These are indeed important ways of knowing our ancestors.

I would like to recommend current personal history as an engrossing and perhaps even more important way to capture the memories of a lifetime - the lifetime of today's elders. These memories are each family's living legacy. They can be recorded and saved now, and passed on to future generations - today's young grandchildren and great-grandchildren yet unborn.

There is an international organization, the Association of Personal Historians, whose members provide a wide variety of services to assist individual families with this (www.personalhistorians.org).

It is vital that each family preserve the unique memories and life experiences of its living elders - before those memories are gone. These stories, told by people in their own words, are incredibly poignant, colorful and meaningful.

Jane Ross, St. Petersburg

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