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Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions February 6, 2016

12/20/2012 5:00:00 PM
LETTER: Blythe police chief defends active shooter training

This is an open challenge to the Palo Verde Valley Times and anyone else, including elected officials, who claim to be opposed to Active Shooter training.

In the aftermath of the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week, school administrators and teachers all across the country are asking themselves if their schools are prepared for something as equally horrible.

Over the past two years, the Blythe Police Department has been extremely proactive in presenting Active Shooter training to schools as well as to city employees. Earlier this year, however, there was much outcry, covered by the Palo Verde Valley Times and yes, even one city councilman, who tried to convince others that Active Shooter training was bad.

For those of you who at least claimed to be against the training, can you now, honestly, in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, make the same claim? You can't. Did the teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook previously receive the training? I don't know and I'm sure the Newtown Police Department is too busy to take a phone call from me to ask, but if not, would the training have saved lives? Would it have at least slowed the crazed gunman down while emergency responders were en route to the point where even one tender life had been spared? And if they did have the training, is it possible that even one of the things they were taught was employed, thereby saving even more lives?

So for those of you who claimed that the training offered by the Blythe Police Department was bad and that it caused a small number of you teachers to file workers compensation claims against the school district, and to complain to the teachers' union, and for the Palo Verde Valley Times to join in and vilify the city, and especially for the city councilman who, on his Facebook page, not only implored people to come forward and complain so that he could stop the training but actually filed formal complaints against me personally with the Riverside County District Attorney and the FBI, I say, "Wake up" and read on.

One of the country's foremost experts on aggression is a retired army Lt. Colonel by the name of Dave Grossman. Colonel Grossman is, among other things, a member of the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security, a former West Point psychology professor, Professor of Military Science, and an Army Ranger, and is an internationally recognized scholar, author, and speaker and one of the world's foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime. What this means is, the guy knows his stuff.

According to Colonel Grossman, "The enemy is denial". Let that sink in a minute. Sure, it happened in Newtown, 3,000 miles away, but it can't happen in Blythe, right? Please read the following passage from an article on Colonel Grossman in PoliceOne.com:

"The challenge for law enforcement agencies and officers, then, is to overcome not only the attacks taking place in schools, but to first overcome the denial in the minds of mayors, city councils, school administrators, and parents (emphasis added). Grossman said that agencies and officers, although facing an uphill slog against the denial of the general public, must diligently work toward increasing understanding among the sheep that the wolves are coming for their children.

Police officers must train and drill with teachers (emphasis added), not only so responding officers are intimately familiar with the facilities, but so that teachers know what they can do in the event of an attack (emphasis added)."

In referencing the Columbine High School shooting of 1999, Colonel Grossman has said, "If somebody had spent five minutes telling that teacher what to do, do you think lives would have been saved at Columbine?"

Is Blythe prepared for the unthinkable? I don't think it is when the local news media, a local elected official, and labor unions stand together and claim that Active Shooter training is bad and should be stopped.

I therefore specifically challenge the Palo Verde Valley Times to openly endorse Active Shooter training. I challenge the college and the hospital to require their employees to participate in active shooter training, and I further challenge anyone else who opposes it to wake up and take note that the wolves may be coming for our sheep and we all should be prepared.

- Steve Smith, Chief of Police - Blythe

Times statement: The newsroom staff of the Palo Verde Valley Times is absolutely stunned and appalled that Blythe Police Chief Steve Smith would politicize the murder of 26 people, 20 of them children, and use it as an opportunity to gloat and point fingers at his critics in the community. Out of respect for the children and heroes who were killed, many who have yet to be buried, we respectfully decline to debate the subject at this time, and exploit this tragic situation further.

Related Links:
• Critics blast use of gunfire at school seminar
• City officials refuse to make full shooter training video public

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: Shain Haas

Mr Smith did not create these dysfunctions. He has been placed in a position where he has to deal with these dysfunctions. If you feel his scenario offered nothing.....then that's fine. But what is he suppose to do? In a world where we react only after the fact, He is trying to prevent or limit losses. Few can say that. I don't recall any of these people complaining saying or doing anything before his scenario. He was the only one I recall trying to do anything. That makes him a target. I wil never attack on individual who is atleast offering some sort of solutions, right or wrong.

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: Shain Haas

@Mad in Blythe. I respect your thoughts on no guns. If the guns not in my hand, I don't trust it. I don't feel guns are the problem here though. We need to build a better society to limit these senseless actions. We need stronger parenting. We need support for these parents. We are a world that is advancing to fast with technology. We are adding too much pressure to our youth with trying to overly educate them. We have far more individuals medicated than any other country. I like australia's take on guns. To have one you must be liscensed and go through training every 3 years

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: Mad In Blythe

Instead of traumatizing everyone which had no value and created potentially huge financial liability for the city and school districts from lawsuits, take the teachers and staff to a gun range. Let them hear the different types of weapons being fired. Teach them the different sounds they would hear from different weapons. Get them radios. Teach them and have them practice radio communication in a lockdown and stressful setting. Role play scenarios but with advance notice so they learn rather than being simply traumatized.
There is a reason it is against the law to brandish and fire a weapon in public. The minute it occurrs all controls are lost. You do not know how people will respond to traumatizing events and it will cause injury and risk that is not necessary. In this case it created fear, extreme stress, physical pain, and humiliation. It was imposed on them by their bosses and public officials who are supposed to know better. So of course they filed lawsuits. They couldn't go to their bosses or the police to file a complaint as they were the perpetrators.
Another perspective here is that the police, city, and school failed to protect the best interests of their organizations by carrying out programs that put all three at potential risk of lawsuits. Why in the world would they all do that. It was a terrible business decision, no gain with the potential for huge financial losses.

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: On the inside .........

You people keep talking about hideing places. Have you been in those classrooms lately? The kids are packed in them like cattle. You can't put 38 kids in a 2 by 3 closet which most rooms don't even have.

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: Mad In Blythe

@Shain Haas. Thanks for you service to our country. To chief Smith thanks for your service over the years. The format of this training was was terribly wrong. Having a makes man run through a room firing a gun served no valuable purpose. It was said this was done to show how difficult it is to get a good discription of the suspect for police in such a situation. In real life in such a situation getting a description when being fired at when children around you are being fired at is last on the list of important things you should be doing. Protect the kids best you can. Protect yourself best you can. Attack buy time for the kids or take as many bullets as you can so they can't be used In someone else.
Violent work shootings occurr everywhere. Are we as a society now that we need armed guards at stores, malls, am pm, gas stations, liquor stores... Should everywhere no require live fire combat training like you recieve in the military or police academy. Should we all have guns so we can have more supposed "stand your ground" senseless killings? Is more guns in society truly the answer. Personally I believe more guns will just lead to more death whether they are accidental or malicious.

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: Blythe Resident

This type of training exercise won't be happening again - anytime soon--not in this town,
the only thing i can't understand is -How it even happened in the first place

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: @Shain Haas

Thank you for the experience you have had, and thank you for sharing it with us. I hope everyone will read and take to heart what you have said. We cannot survive sticking our heads where the sun don't shine. Reality is hard to face, but we all must face it in order to survive. "Oh, it won't happen here" is just crazy. They said that at Columbine, they said it in Newtone. It CAN happen here, and when you least expect it. Wake up.

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: Shain Haas

PTSD is not a disability. It is the realization of the actual possibilities that are possible in our lives. If the training bothered you, more than likely it's caused by your false pretense that life is exactly the way we have lived it. Killers don't care about your feelings, your familly or your union. They care only about killing you. cause you have no defense. Mr Smith is not the bad man. He may not be perfect, but his life has been devoted to saving yours. Give him that respect.

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: Shain Haas

I trained for years using blank rounds. It doesn't hurt your lungs. We are a society who are over sensitized. I wasn't at the training. I don't know how good it was. Get over it. "But PD broke the law" so do the killers. "But PD should have shown us good hiding spots" News allert, your students are kids, they minor in Hide N Seak.

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: Shain Haas

There was complaints of people that couldn't breath correctly for days after the training due to what came from the guns. People where psychologically damaged from the event. Responses of how it's too soon and Mr Smith should"ve waited are insane. I would trade my life for any of those children or teachers. But we didn't know them. It wasn't here. Now is the perfect time. While the pain is real.

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: Shain Haas

Blah Blah Blah.... I am sorry if peoples fealings got hurt. I am an Iraq war veteran. I was incharge of 2/11th ACR Foxtroop sniper teams. 13 months deployed. I created Iraq urban sniper warfare tachtiques for Iraqi national gaurds to train by. I have spent 8 years of the last 11 devoted to giving my life to save another. When we where going to get deployed, as a Seargent, I was informed to use the word dead alot. It was suppose to desensitize my soldiers when death did accure.

Posted: Saturday, December 22, 2012
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

Site Administrator's note:Please keep comments succinct; 300 words or less is optimal. Comments that are excessively verbose, rambling or too long for reasonable review may not be posted.

Posted: Saturday, December 22, 2012
Article comment by: Mad in Blythe

I read these comments and reread the letter from the chief of police and cannot understand why or how anyone in their right mind thinks it is ok to allow a masked man to burst into a room of unsuspecting people and start shooting. IT IS AGAINST THE LAW, PERIOD. NO ONE FOR WHATEVER REASON, RATIONAL, OR INTENT HAS THE RIGHT TO BRANDISH A WEAPON IN PUBLIC MUCH LESS POINT IT AND SHOOT IT AT UNSUSPECTING INDIVIDUALS.
If you think it is ok then let someone you don't know take a gun he says has blanks in it, point it at you, your wife, your mother, your son, and let him pull the trigger without telling your family what is happening. Then after you've had your chuckle tell them that it's ok the man has a policemans badge.
You never ever point a gun at someone and pull the trigger unless you intend to kill them. It's gun basics 101.
The arrogance of these officials is not only incomprehensible but also near unforgivable

Posted: Friday, December 21, 2012
Article comment by: Gigi Henderson

I already posted my reply to this article........but.....I have a question of the PVVT now.........
How "may post comments using a pseudonym."
There is no field for me to enter a pseudonym.
Or am I supposed to put that in my comment field?
Thank you.

Posted: Friday, December 21, 2012
Article comment by: Gigi Henderson

Perhaps our Police Chief should not have challenged this very biased newspaper in his opening statement.
However, I fully stand behind him and all that he has said on this subject. This is a man who has been openly chastised in both the PVVT and by our City Council, yet has stood his ground and made changes happen. I hope he continues to do so. He may not always have the most popular point of view, but I believe he has the correct course of action, and I hope he will continue to fight his detractors and keep Blythe on the right track.
He has made changes for the better in my own neighborhood, and if he will stay in Blythe, I am sure he will continue to do so.
This letter will also be sent in writing to the PVVT, so they will hopefully publish it in our very few (lately) letters to the editor column.

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