Former SRO shares perspective as school safety debate goes on

Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 10:17 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - It’s been almost two weeks since the deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas took the lives of 19 children and two teachers.

Since the tragedy, the debate about how to keep schools safe from these types of attacks has reignited. Some believe that all schools should have a police presence or school resource officers present at all times.

However, would having SRO’s really prevent a mass shooting?

“I certainly believe there should be school resource officers in every school,” Chris Bangs, a former SRO, said. “I think we should but I don’t think the number one reason should just be to deter an active shooter situation.”

Bangs was an SRO within the Salem-Keizer School District for about 10 years. He said safety was certainly a priority but it was only a small part of what he did as a SRO.

“It’s more than that, it’s getting to know the kids and staff and doing the home checks like I talked about. It’s having the kids come up and give us information when we’re in the schools, teachers feeling comfortable about coming and talking to us about situations,” Bangs said.

He said they prepared and practiced for active shooter situation but there is no guarantee that a SRO would prevent something like that from happening.

“If that went down in a school building even if we weren’t there, when we got there our number one priority is to obtain access into the school,” Bangs said. “And we’re going to have to find whoever is harming people inside that building and end it, whether that’s them giving up or us making them give up.”

He said the bulk of his job was building relationships at the school.

“The job is 99 percent having conversations with people -- just having a daily conversation, checking in with people at the school, asking them how their day is going in,” he said. “It’s just a different mentality in law enforcement working in a school than it is just out writing tickets on the freeway.”