KATIE ZERR: Things could have been very different
An incident occurred on Monday at Mobridge-Pollock High School that was not only eye opening, but was a reality check for many in our community.
I happened to be right in the middle of it. In fact, I saw the student carrying the metal object across the parking lot into the CTE. As Superintendent Tim Frederick ran to ensure the safety of the students and staff, I was the 911 caller who spoke with the dispatcher.
First of all, let me say that it was not on my word alone that the scenario took place. I was with a person who knows about guns and is an avid hunter, and it was on his word and actions that the lock down occurred. So for all of those who are snickering about it, it wasn’t the panicking moment of a gun-biased liberal that caused all the commotion.
The person, (later discovered to have been a student) who carried the metal from his pickup to the building, cradled it in his arms, as a hunter would carry a gun in the field. I am sure it was the easiest manner in which to carry a longer, heavy object. But it looked more than a bit menacing.
Second, with a hood up and dark glasses, it was difficult to identify the person as a student. As the training the Mobridge-Pollock staff has been through kicked in, I had a ringside seat to the actions that followed.
As I stayed on the line with the 911 dispatcher who was very professional and had people on the way immediately, the sights and sounds of the lockdown were happening around me.
The building got very quiet and the lights were shut down. Children were secured in safe rooms and those that were attending a mock legislative session in the gym were hurried from the building to safe place across from the school.
It wasn’t but a minute or two before three law enforcement vehicles were in the parking lot and officers, with guns in hand were investigating the CTE building. There were some glitches in the system that I am sure will get remedied now that they were discovered, but what happened in those few minutes was impressive and professional.
It should bring comfort to the our community that not only did the staff and administration of our school do exactly what was needed, but also help was on scene in a matter of minutes.
We all know that no matter where we live in this day and age, this type of situation is a reality. We can’t say that this wouldn’t happen here in rural South Dakota. It may have been true 50 years ago, but it is not true today.
Those who dismissed this situation and have voiced their displeasure at the show of force have no clue what it was like right there.
I understand kids were texting their parents and school’s phones were ringing constantly during the ordeal. I can’t imagine what was going through the minds of those parents as their children were texting their fear at what was happening.
There are a couple of things that will stick with me as I replay the scene again and again in my mind.
First, the object in question looked like a weapon. There is no doubt in my mind about that. Second, the speed and professionalism that the school staff showed, from my viewpoint, should be reassuring to parents that their children are in good hands. And third, to all of those who criticize our law enforcement and complain because they pick on law-abiding citizens, it is time you drag yourself out of the 1970s and open your eyes to the real world.
Those four officers did not wait until there was more firepower. They put themselves on the line to enter the building in order to make sure those inside were not in danger.
On Monday night as I looked back on the situation and evaluated what happened, I came to the conclusion that it was handled as it should have been.
If not, this week’s newspaper could have been one with a very different tone.