To My Godsons:
You know my job, as law enforcement, is to stop bad guys every day, to protect innocent people, and run toward the danger. I take my job seriously and know that my life could be taken at a moment’s notice in order to protect others. Your parents want to keep you safe, protect you from the dangers in life, and keep the “crazy” away from your childhood so you can enjoy life without worry. But unfortunately, two days ago, a few miles from my work, a 19 year old “bad guy” took it upon himself to bring a gun to a high school and shoot innocent people. So I am writing this letter to help you know what do in the event you are ever faced with a situation like this.
You are growing up in a time when the “bad guy” isn’t usually an adult, but another kid. Sometimes bullying is part of it, and sometimes the person is just mad at the world. I’m not telling you this to scare you, but in order to be safe you have to be aware. You have to take your noses out of your phones and games and be aware of your surroundings and aware of what is going on with your friends. If you know someone at school who keeps talking about hurting others or animals, if they are always angry or refuse to talk to anyone, take notice. Tell your teacher, principle, parents, or even another adult that you trust.
You are old enough now to know that the world isn’t always safe.
I hope this never happens to you, but in reality, this could happen anywhere … while you are at the mall, in a movie theater, at a concert, a parade, or even at school. You have to have a plan for when something happens. When a person is threatened, there is a response that decides what they will do. Will they fight, flight, or freeze? If someone brings a gun to school, what are you going to do? Are you going to report it to a teacher if the gun is in a backpack? If someone pulls a gun out and starts to shoot, what are you going to do? Could you see the gun before he started shooting, or were you too busy not paying attention? I’m sure you’ve never thought of that before because you are a kid and things like that shouldn’t happen to you. But, it can happen at anytime, anywhere! You have to pay attention to your surroundings, just like when you look both ways to cross the street.
What to do at the playground
I want you to start thinking about if you’re on the playground and someone starts shooting through the fence, what are you going to do? I want you to run as fast as you can to safety. If that means hiding inside a building, classroom, bathroom, where ever you can go and lock a door, do it. After the door is locked, push items against the door, use others to help and get away from the door and windows. It’s harder to hit a moving target than a still one.
What to do at school
If someone starts shooting in the hallway of your school, find a room and barricade yourself in. As you sit in the cafeteria at school during lunch, pay attention to where you sit. You’ll see a threat a lot faster if you sit facing the door. I’m sure you practice fire drills at school. Use that opportunity to pay attention to where closets, classrooms, bathrooms, stairwells are so that if, God forbid, something does happen, you have a plan.
Of course, I hope you never have to use these, but I felt it was necessary to teach you these simple tactics and ideas in case you are ever in this situation.
Have a Plan and Do Not Give Up
You know my response to a threat is to fight, whether I’m working or not. I’ve talked to you about fleeing – running to safety. The worst thing you can do is freeze. Barricading the doors you’re hidden behind is also a version of fighting.
If you are in a situation where you have to fight, you FIGHT. No matter what, don’t give up! Do everything and anything you can do to make it out of a situation alive. You keep fighting, and when you are tired, keep fighting some more. It could save your life or your brother’s or your sister’s.
As you get into middle school and high school, the threat is greater. Over the next few days / weeks / months / years, I will teach you emergency first aide and give you scenarios to make you think of different strategies in dangerous situations. I’d rather you have plans, be a little scared, and more aware of your surroundings, than freeze and know I could have possibly prevented it.
You also need to get your heads out of your phones. Put the phones down and look around you. You just might save someone’s life or your own.
I love you as if you were my own. I only want the best for you and to keep you safe. In this day and age, I can’t shelter you from everything. But I can help you be prepared for life and teach you valuable skills that could potentially save your lives.