Letter to the Editor from Former Military and Madison Resident, Ronald Barton

August 06, 2018

Due to all the nasty letters, comments, threats, whatever you want to call them, on the redistricting of school zones regarding the children attending the Clarence Elementary School. This is not a political statement, anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am not political. I have no vested interest in this matter either way. I do have a humanitarian interest in the fact you're dealing with the safety and welfare of children, not the monetary and/or politics of the adult world. As a parent I know which is more important to me! Again this is my opinion. You may ask, "What makes you think you know anything about safety and security?" Well very briefly, as this letter is not about me, I have over 45 years Military and civilian training and experience in the real world, foreign and domestic, of safety and security. Everything from a simple escort, to the POTUS and various other high ranking officials. And yes I can verify it. Now this is not an attempt to incite contempt, or a pitch to sway anyone. This is just an outside view from a security/law enforcement point of view.

Looking at the Macon or South Shelby differences:

#1 Macon's location provides the response of emergency medical services on scene and the asset of hospital and surgical resources if necessary. All within minutes availability. Sometimes "minutes" make the difference between life and death. South Shelby would require the call to be able to be made, the dispatching of an ambulance, the arrival and transportation of victim back to the hospital. And I believe the closest one is where? Macon...

#2 Macon provides an on sight Resource Officer (which is an armed, fully commissioned Police Officer), with talks of implementing a second Resource Officer. Very "proactive" in safety and security of school kids and personnel. This would provide an almost instantaneous response to, and containment of the threat, with the possibility of little or no injuries to the children and/or staff. South Shelby would have to rely on a phone call being made, the call taken seriously and dispatched promptly, and then the arrival time of law enforcement. This would be a "reactive" (after the fact) approach to safety and security. During this time the children would have to rely on any untrained and unarmed staff that would be willing to sacrifice their life in order to protect your child. The other benefit of the on sight Resource Officers would be the insight of all back doors, short cuts, hiding spots, most secure spots, and quickest route to intercept the threat. Due to the daily interaction with staff and students, and constant familiarization of the building during foot patrols. South Shelby does not have this security measure in place. And according to sources they want to get all the kids in one spot and then revisit that possibility. Again a "reactive" approach!

#3 In regards to the response of needed reinforcement to a school threat let's look at Macon first. As mentioned earlier, there's already Resource Officer on sight. So the threat quite possibly could already have been intercepted and secured by the time reinforcements arrive. If not, those reinforcements are only minutes or seconds away. Missouri State Highway Patrol, Macon County Sheriff's Dept., and Macon City Police Dept., are all right there within the city limits of Macon. Response time would be very swift. And plenty of it! South Shelby, again after and if that phone call could be made, would be waiting for help. Response distance for that help would be approximately; Shelbina City Police (4.1 miles / 6 min.), Shelby County Sheriff's Dept. (16.6 miles / 22 min.), and Clarence Police Dept. (9.8 miles / 10 min.).

Again this is my own observation from my experience in this area. I have been in the situation of waiting for reinforcement, and minutes seem like hours. Seconds are long enough. And these are your children in harms' way. Reactive is always an after the fact response! After someone is injured or dead, after the disaster or crisis. I am always for the belief of better to be prepared and not need it, than not be prepared and need it. In the area of safety and security of children, anyone's child, I am always on the side of over prepared. Going through the loss of a child myself, I will always be for their safety over anyone's. Including my own. Just things to consider when it comes down to deciding what part of this whole argument in more important.

Ronald C. Barton