This month’s article is going to be relatively short. This will be done purposely. There is a message to convey, and I have found that the shorter the message, the easier it is to absorb. I am sure there are many variations of what I am writing here, each one no less important than the others, each one important on its own merits. If you can take one or two or even three great points from each and every article that has been written about this tragedy, and truly internalize them, you could make a small encyclopedia—remember those?—of wisdom.
There may be many reasons why certain things were done or not done in Parkland at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018. Bottom line: The mission was not accomplished. In other words, the mission failed.
Here’s an analogy. You could watch a ball game, perhaps your favorite team is playing. The other team may have had three errors, your team none. The other team may have only three hits. Your team had 20. Their pitcher may have walked ten and struck out none. Your pitcher struck out fifteen. But the other team won 10 – 9. Your team lost. Your team failed in this instance, despite all the stats that might suggest otherwise.
Nothing Else Matters
I apologize for using a sports metaphor in terms of such a tragedy. But please understand, I am not comparing the tragedy to anything in metaphor form. I am comparing the abundance of excuses, what-ifs, what coulda/shoulda been, etc. The mission failed—at many levels, from failing to following up on tips to a lack of attention towards a very troubled person that the school and, in turn, school board, did little, if nothing, to take this threat for what it was.
But even with that, there was one shining moment, when a tactical engagement could have ensued. There was one shining moment when Col. Joshua Chamberlain would have “fixed bayonets” and charged down Little Round Top into two Alabama Regiments. The 20th Maine would not be denied.
Which Chamberlain Do You Aspire To?
There was no Chamerlain on the 14th of February. No Joshua, Wilt, or Richard Chamberlain. Perhaps there was a Neville Chamberlain, looking to avoid necessary battle: Looking to appease that which may have been terribly difficult, and understandably so, to undertake. But something that needed to be done in any case.
“Do not approach the 12 or 1300 building, stay at least 500 feet away,” a panicked Peterson shouted as people screamed in the background. ( David Ovale, et al, Miami Herald, 9 March 2018 “ Disgraced Parkland Deputy Heard Shot Inside School Building, Told Cops to Stay Away.)
How about fix something?
The mission failed at a grand level. We run towards danger. Where children are concerned in a school, where carnage is unfolding, locked and loaded, we ask God to keep our families in his love should we not make it out alive. We don’t run towards gunfire, we sprint. That is our mission, our order, our rule to follow.
Civilian peace officers weren’t drafted, we enlisted. We trained, we graduated, then we trained some more. Some acquired greater rank and responsibilities. Some handled it better than others. Some have no right being in supervisory or command roles, and some have no right being cops. I get it. But all of us, from the chief of police to the rookie with his/her first day on the road, have the same responsibility when it hits the proverbial fan. We fix our bayonets and neutralize the threat. That’s the job we enlisted to do.