|Monday Morning Quarterbacks Should Stick To Football|
Ad hoc teams of courageous deputies enlisted officers from two other agencies and quickly formed entry teams, using their individual tactical training to enter the school before SWAT teams were even en route to the scene. Deputies moved in under fire to assist the scores of terrified students fleeing the building, safely evacuating many injured children. Were the responders fearful? Were they cautious? They would have been foolish not to be. Regardless, despite the unimaginable chaos, the law enforcement professionals who responded to the terrorist attack on Columbine that awful day performed their duties in a disciplined, exemplary manner.
Examination of the Columbine response has produced new options for officers responding to the next tragedy. American law enforcement has forged closer relationships with fire and EMS agencies, planning and training with them and schools in their communities to ensure clear understanding of various operational roles. Our SWAT team, working with the NTOA, led the way in training our deputies and officers of other local departments in urban rifle and active shooter tactics. We now have far better public safety communications capabilities throughout Colorado. And members of my staff repeatedly shared the lessons of Columbine with our colleagues in law enforcement around the United States - reliving that horrible experience with each presentation.
Monday morning quarterbacks will continue to express their views from the safety and comfort of their recliners. We have learned, to paraphrase President Theodore Roosevelt: It is not the critic that counts. Those valiant souls in the arena, faces marred by dust and sweat and blood, who actually strive to do the deeds, are those whom we honor - the men and women of law enforcement who selflessly face danger every day - especially those who responded to Columbine.
John P. Stone is the sheriff of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in Colorado.