Thank you Police State USA
WINTER HAVEN, FL — Classrooms full of students and staff members were terrified when gun-wielding police officers unexpectedly charged in and locked down their middle school — an event that was actually part of a realistic drill that no one was allowed to know about.
The disturbing event happened early in the school day at Jewett Middle Academy on Thursday, November 13th, 2014. Without explanation, the principal announced at 9:00 a.m. that the school was being put into lockdown.
Moments later, police officers swept through the school, classroom-by-classroom, with weapons drawn. The bewildered children and teachers actually thought they were in real danger.
“We actually thought that someone was going to come in there and kill us,” said 7th grader Lauren Marionneaux.
The event was an “active shooter drill,” which are becoming commonplace in America’s public schools, with varying degrees of realism and notification. Ostensibly promoted as a way to thwart school shootings, the controversial and dangerous drills also subtly shape the perspectives of young, impressionable minds.
Many schools run such drills during the summer or when class is not in session. Many use volunteers rather than unsuspecting students. But not in Polk County, Florida.
“I thought he was going to shoot me,” said student Stacy Ray to FOX 13, after seeing an officer carrying a rifle sweep through her classroom.
The teams of officers were not carrying prop firearms. The weapons were real and they were loaded with real ammunition confirmed police .
Frightened children began to send text messages to their parents, sending them into a panic. No parent had been notified that the dramatic event was going to occur, nor asked permission, nor granted consent. The first official explanation came in an email, on the day after the drill.
The secrecy was intentional and required, administrators confirmed.
“We do not give advanced notice of fire drills,” the school rationalized to to parents in an email, “in order to evaluate how safety procedures work.”
After many criticisms, the only thing that officials agreed to change in Polk County is the presence of actual, loaded weapons during the drills. The drills will continue, without warning or consent, whether parents like it or not.
“It really is to protect the children,” said Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird.
Jacquelyn Moore, principal of Jewett Middle Academy Magnet, was suspended Tuesday pending an internal investigation.
The drill, organized by Moore, other school administrators and the Winter Haven Police department school resource officer, showed “a lack of good judgment,” Kathryn LeRoy, Polk County’s school superintendent, said at a school board meeting.
The Nov. 13 drill began when Moore announced the school was going on lockdown. Shortly afterwards, the school resource officer and another police officer systematically entered classrooms with weapons in hand — one had a loaded pistol and another had an unloaded AR-15.
“We actually thought that someone was going to come in there and kill us,”7th-grader Lauren Marionneaux told Fox 13.
Students and teachers were not notified of the drill ahead of time. Parents were only alerted while the drill was taking place, meaning that some parents received terrified text messages from their children and believed a school shooting was actually occurring.
Leroy explained at the board meeting, the district had requested schools engage in lockdown drills, but not active-shooter drills specifically and district’s director of safe schools didn’t know officers would be brandishing guns with live ammunition during the simulation.
Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird said at the time it was “very important” to conduct a drill “without everyone knowing it’s a drill.”
However, the backlash from parents and students prompted the department to change their policy on lockdown drills. They announced last week that drills in the future “will be performed by uniformed officers without weapons.”