Dear Letter to the Editor,


Whoever has ears, let them hear!

When I was 21 years old, I used to swim at a friend's house over on Brasfield Road right outside of Dresden. My friend's mother was in the military, and she had motion sensors all around her house. The moment somebody pulled off the road onto her driveway or if someone walked into her yard from any point, the motion sensors would activate and create a loud tone like a doorbell all over the house. No matter what we were doing at the time, we would hear that tone which gave us a heads up to look at the cameras or out the window to see who it was and what they were doing.

Two years ago, I happened to be volunteering at Santa's Helpers on the day the Dresden Elementary and Middle School called for Ms. Powers to come collect the canned goods from the food drive they have every year. Ms. Power's van was already loaded with donations so she asked one of us volunteers if we could go pick them up. So off I went to Dresden Elementary and Middle school. When I arrived and walked up to the doors, before I could ever enter the school, I had to press a button activating a speaker to tell a faculty member why I was there and who I was. A camera is also there so the faculty members can see if I'm carrying anything that looks suspicious. Even though my story was plausible, and Ms. Powers is well known, it still took several minutes before I was allowed into the school. The school's faculty went the extra-mile, called Ms. Powers asking her what I looked like, and what kind of car I drove. They only allowed me in when they knew 100 percent that the kids were safe.

What can be learned and implemented to all schools by these moments in my life? All schools should be locked. They should require cameras at every point of entry and exit. All visitors should be verified at the main entrance in front of the camera and speaker. If a visitor cannot be verified, then the police officer who is in the school should never go outside or open the door to confront that person. He can radio for an officer to approach the visitor from the outside if the faculty or officer inside feels the visitor is suspicious. Any visitor who approaches an entry other than the main entrance, then you know that is a person of interest and an officer needs to be called. Each school should at least have one officer inside, an officer outside, a K-9 unit and a trained security camera surveillance specialist who can relay critical information to the officers in real time. The specialist can be the eyes and ears for the police officer walking around inside and the police officer outside while the children are present. If you watch the footage where the 18-year-old shooter in Uvalde, Texas, gained access to the school through a side door, had this system been implemented at Robb Elementary School, then it would have been almost impossible for him to gain access.

If all schools install those motion sensors I mentioned about in the first paragraph, then it would give the surveillance specialist a heads up the moment a car pulls onto school property. That car can be monitored as it pulls up and parks. The specialist can observe who gets out, what they get out of the car with, and if the specialist finds any suspicious activity, then the specialist can notify the police officer inside the school, the officer outside, and local law enforcement. Any suspicious character should never be confronted by the officer inside unless necessary and should never open the door during such activity. If a potential threat is outside, then it should be confronted by an outside officer. This system can be used not only on cars, but the random chance a stranger comes walking out of the woods or somewhere random on school property. Had this system of motion sensors been implemented at the Robb Elementary School, then the specialist would have seen the 18-year-old shooter the moment he touched school property and crashed his vehicle. That specialist would have relayed critical information to the officer inside and outside. The officer inside would have been ready at the door and the officer outside could have positioned himself with a flanking vantage point to neutralize the shooter.

K-9 dogs wouldn't be a bad idea at schools either. K-9's can be trained to smell plastics, stainless steel, gunpowder, drugs, and gun components. A K-9 unit can get to a potential threat at a school much faster than the human police officer. K-9s are fast, come at you silently, and at an awkward angle to a shooter. They latch those jaws on the wrist of any person holding a gun which incapacitates their ability to pull the trigger because most drop the gun. Had a K-9 unit been alongside an inside officer waiting at the locked door at Robb Elementary School, along with the outside officer's flanking vantage point, and all being watched by the specialist relaying critical information in real time to local law enforcement and officers on site then the chances of that shooter or any future shooter being successful in any mass shooting at any school would be slim to nothing.

Now we've contained external threats at schools, so let's work on the internal threats. It's highly unlikely that a teacher would sneak or bring a gun to school so the focus shifts to a student who might. Most guns are hidden in backpacks or their lockers so if schools required students to carry clear transparent backpacks then it would greatly reduce the chances of a gun, drugs, or other weapons to be carried into the school. Lockers should all be made see through as well. This would give the in-school officer, outside officer, and the surveillance specialist a greater chance at spotting anything suspicious.

The 2nd amendment is a Constitutional right that cannot be infringed. It's a complex issue that politicians in Washington, D.C. can't solve because they put all their focus on things, they can't change rather than things they can change. Congress could put forth a bill with such systems as I've mentioned in this letter to appropriate the funds necessary to ensure every school in America has these tools to keep children safe. All it would take is the funds, the equipment, the trained officers, and the professionals to install and monitor these systems throughout the United States of America. You can't put a price on the safety of children at school. To some kids who don't have much of a home life; school is all they have. Each student deserves to be safe, loved, and appreciated; just as I was in school.

If anyone believes these ideas to be a way forward in preventing these mass school shootings, then by all means, spread these words to every politician and citizen. Spread them on the internet and on social media. You don't even have to include my name. I don't write for praise or reward, but for the chance my words may save just one child's life. Write me a letter if you support some of these ideas and I'll send the letters to the politicians myself. Write to me if you have a different perspective or idea which can help. Politicians pass bills based upon the concerns of the citizens. Write them, call them, and email them. Tell them your hopes and dreams. Tell them your ideas. Bring up critical issues that need their attention so they may once again govern for the good of the people. Don't be afraid of what you may say but, be afraid of saying nothing.


Chace Kesterson

Dresden, TN