Your letters, Jan. 19

January 17, 2014 

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    Please send letters of up to 300 words and guest columns of up to 600 words to editor@newsobserver.com. Submissions may be edited for space and clarity.

Resource officers must put law first

Re “More SROs won’t make schools safer,” (DN, Jan. 12, bit.ly/1kA9zCw )

It doesn't appear Amanda Young spoke with any local school administrators or officials or public safety agencies that provide numerous school resource officers to Durham's schools prior to writing this commentary. Had she done so, I think she would have found that there is overwhelming support for having school resource officers in all schools.

She might have also learned that SROs aren't lurking in the shadows waiting to arrest students and “undermine” the authority of teachers and administrators. SROs genuinely care about the welfare and security of students and staff – regularly going out of their way to assist students in need and organize community-service projects.

However, let's not forget that they are law enforcement officers first and foremost. Enforcing the law is their job. They are not counselors, mental health professionals, prosecutors, or judges. An SRO is a small cog in the large wheel of juvenile justice and school safety and security – with emphasis placed on safety and security. To argue that they don't make schools safer is naive. There are countless stories of SROs preventing numerous school shootings and other types of violence (here's a few: on.wfmy.com/1ceyaTm, bit.ly/Kfgv75, bit.ly/19pzpnO, bit.ly/1eOXPFj).

Unfortunately we don't live in a world where people with murderous intentions can be influenced to change their mind through “behavior intervention.” When a killer makes the decision to harm students, a school resource officer is the first line of defense, and they will bravely put their lives on the line to defend others. Finally, I encourage Amanda to actually speak with a real-life SRO in Durham and accompany them through a school day. I would be surprised if she still has the same opinion about SROs in schools.

Paul Sherwin

The writer is a deputy and the public information officer for the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.

A son’s sacrifice

Want to know what a true hero looks like?

The world lost a brave soul Jan. 9 when 14-year old Aitzaz Hasan Bangash died after tackling a suicide bomber forcing his way into the Pakistani school. After noticing the man dressed in the school uniform and acting suspiciously, Aitzaz confronted the bomber and scuffled with him to keep him away from the 1,500-plus classmates that were just minutes away. Ultimately, the bomb exploded and Aitzaz was killed.

We launched an Indiegogo campaign based out of Chapel Hill Kan. 9, hoping to show his family how much we all really admire their son’s sacrifice. This was a 14-year-old – a son, a cousin, a kid. He gave his life to save hundreds, if not thousands, of children just yards away.

From BBC, a quote from Aitzaz's father, Mujahid Ali: “My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children.”

A story of bravery, courage, and heroism like this can’t go unnoticed. I think we’ve got to do something to show his family how much we are thankful for their son’s sacrifice. This is our chance to honor a true hero.

Check out the campaign at: igg.me/at/aitzaz/x/848179. All of the money raised will go directly to the family of Aitzaz in honor of their brave son.

Ryan Perlowin

Chapel Hill

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