Parkland Press

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Editor's View Better safe than sorry

Thursday, September 20, 2012 by DEBRA PALMIERI dpalmieri@tnonline.com in Opinion

Parkland administrators, emergency responders are ready for any contingency

Just three days after the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and the murders of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Information Management Officer Sean Smith and two former Navy Seals at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, emergency crews responded en masse to Parkland High School.

Americans have been told for more than a decade to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity they may see.

New York City even has a television and radio ad campaign describing various incidents that need to be reported.

On May 1, 2010, an observant street vendor, a Vietnam veteran, told police there was smoke coming from an SUV parked in Times Square.

Inside the vehicle, police found three propane tanks, two 5-gallon plastic containers of gas, a clock, electrical parts and gunpowder.

Because of his vigilance and the quick response of police and fire crews, a potential disaster was averted.

So was the case just before 5 p.m. Sept. 14 when a teacher at Parkland High School saw an individual dressed in camouflage, with a packed vest, say a prayer, salute the flag and then run into the school.

Administators and police were notified and the emergency response from across the county and beyond was incredible.

As events unfolded late into the evening, students were safely placed in lockdown mode, football players, the band and cheerleaders returning from an away game were diverted to the Troxell Building and a thorough search was made in the high school.

Thank God the incident turned out to be as benign as it was.

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin, at a 10 p.m. press conference, said the teacher "acted appropriately under the circumstances."

Martin also said the student, who had water bottles filled with sand in his flak jacket to weigh him down, was in training for military boot camp.

"The student did nothing wrong," Martin said. "It just appeared suspicious."

The teacher should be considered a hero by the administration, by parents and by the community for raising the alarm and putting the safety of students first, rather than second-guessing what was seen and walking away.

As for the young man, who is heading into the military, and who stopped to say a prayer and salute the American flag, he should be praised for his dedication to God and country.

Deb Palmieri

editor

Parkland Press

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