By Terry Miller
During City Council’s public comment period on Tuesday, resident David Fong described, in detail, a recent incident in which Highland Oaks School was put on lockdown while Arcadia Police searched for suspects in a residential robbery.
Fong’s wife, a teacher at Highland Oaks, said the children were safe but Fong insisted that many of those students were clearly traumatized by that event and remain so to this day.
Luckily, the intrepid efforts of the Arcadia Police proved fruitful and the burglary suspects were arrested without any further incident. However, Fong says the council needs to approve more funds for an additional School Resource officer. Fong also cited the critical time factor from the time an incident is called into dispatch to the time officers arrive on scene. Fong cited the incident where a school resource officer was criticized for not engaging with an active shooter recently. Fong defended that officer’s actions by saying he was “scared and didn’t have back-up.”
Currently the district only has one such officer and Fong asked the city to seriously consider additional safety measures at Arcadia schools. Fong cited the increased number of school shootings in the United States in 2017 and wondered if the Council was doing enough to protect students and teachers.
Later during the meeting, Mayor Sho Tay invited Arcadia Police Chief Robert Guthrie to discuss the department’s policy on lockdowns.
Chief Guthrie said that he and his staff plan on a series of collaborative meetings with Arcadia Unified School District to address this very issue of lockdowns. “Thankfully, our lockdowns are entirely precautionary,” Guthrie said.
Chief Guthrie said that officers and school staff will conduct drills and training throughout the summer and into the school year to educate officers, staff, and parents in the event of an incident where a lockdown is necessary. Again, Chief Guthrie stressed that these lockdowns are precautionary and only done when officers feel there may be a potential threat to a nearby school.
In another matter, Robert Gorsky, a Disability Civil Rights specialist, spoke to council about the important issue of recognizing not only racism, sexism, ageism but also ‘Handicapism.’
Gorsky cited the recent election when some campaign workers childishly lambasted a handicapped candidate. “We are not ‘useless,’ we are useful,” Gorsky said. “The wheelchair is a tool, just like a car.”
Gorsky told council, “We can’t legislate attitude towards disabled people but we can educate.” At that point, Gorsky invited Mayor Sho Tay to experience what life is like for the disabled by loaning him a spare power wheelchair. Gorsky said he would like the Mayor to experience waiting for a Dial a Ride and three days a week in a wheelchair. Gorsky hopes lessons like this might change what he called ‘handicappist’ attitudes.