Schools, law enforcement instill confidence

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Public Safety Director Jeff Manuel was correct in his assessment of how prepared the Demopolis Police Department and area schools would be in the wake of a crisis like what took place Monday on the campus of Virginia Tech.

Manuel was talking about the fact that more people live on the campus of Virginia Tech than live in the City of Demopolis.

Dr. Arthur Ogden, campus director at Alabama Southern Community College, agreed with Manuel&8217;s assessment. He said small campuses like the one here differ greatly from those of large universities. In settings like our local schools, most students are known by faculty and administrators, he said.

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We concur with both men, to an extent. The culture of our local colleges &8212; ASCC and the University of West Alabama &8212; along with our grade-school campuses foster a completely different environment than ones like Virginia Tech, if for no other reason than sheer size.

That said, we should never overemphasize the safety of our schools at the risk of generating a false sense of security. When you consider the school shootings that have terrified American public schools over the last two decades &8212; where most all of the shooters were students &8212; then it is imperative that we be vigilant in our efforts.

It is not the size of the school &8212; nor the size of the town &8212; that dictates the likelihood of these occurrences. Unfortunately, nothing about a school or a city or a community serves as a predictor of when something terrible like this might strike.

That is why we are proud to know that our local law enforcement has plans in place to deal with the horrible scenarios.

At the same time, we were surprised to find out that UWA is still working on a safety plan. We hope the events at Virginia Tech have made those plans a top priority.