As the crime rate in this country drops, the media gives us the impression that crime has never been higher in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Meanwhile, a fear which resonates with the rest of the country has not found our little corner of the world; the agony of a school shooting. Are we a target for such a violent act? Certainly we all remember the armed invader who walked through an Albuquerque business shooting people in an attempt to get revenge on his ex-girlfriend a few years ago. In the wake of all these recent gun crimes, are our schools safe?
A concern has arisen in the Albuquerque area with the mass amount of APD shootings in our recent news, especially as of 2014. Granted, there is a great deal of reason for these concerns because of the less than consistent stories but one thing Albuquerque can claim without argument is that the spree of mass shootings has for the most part, passed us by. What do we have to thank for that? Are we in line for this kind of risk? What is being done to protect ourselves and our children in the case of this kind of event?
Gun control laws in Albuquerque are no tougher than they are anywhere else. In fact, according to handgunlaw.us, a concealed carry is obtained easily and as long as the only gun you carry is the one you are registered for, your concealed weapon is legal. There is a couple of “between the lines” regulations of course, but for the most part the only regulation is that you register what you carry and that you are not under any influence while carrying said gun. Doesn’t seem too hard to obtain a weapon, right?
The question however remains: what has kept up from being a victim to a gun-wielding killer? Does the answer to that question lie with APD or is it something else in our city's limits. While police brutality has always been a phenomenon, monopolizing the news when it occurs (and with good reason) what goes unseen/unheard tends to be the events leading up to the brutality. That is implied on both sides, both for the police and for the person who is the subject of their aggression. The Albuquerque Police Department, while violent is no more vicious than other police departments except that it has more fatalities than most and the ratio of deaths caused by the police versus the size of the population is a little high. Cities such as San Diego and Baltimore see a great deal of violence, yet their population and its comparison to those deaths evens out the percentage. Is there a possibility that the safety of our school-age children comes from this level of intolerance?
The University of New Mexico main campus is a huge employer, with more than 20,000 employees as of 2011 and over 22,000 students registered there as of the 2012/2013 school year. Its status in the city keeps it a relevant entity, yet its campuses stay safe and clear for the most part. Students are mostly uneducated in how to handle an emergency situation simply because there has not been one to be wary of. The University has a special task-force established for sexual assault cases, regular security, and a police station located directly on campus. There is one of the largest hospitals in Albuquerque attached to the school and emergency procedures which all employees have been educated in. Our public schools enjoy the same kind of security as the university, with police regularly on their campuses for safety purposes and security and educators maintaining the safety of the children.
To an outsider, Albuquerque's police activity in schools might seem a little more 'ghetto' and unflattering, but the safety which is present and the peace of mind in the eyes of parents and children begs the question: is this level of police activity the future in school protection? Have we gone from the point of teaching the kids to hide in case of a bomb drop, to the presence of metal detectors at all entrances and exits? While the norm now is not comfortable nor is it soothing, the possibility that this is the beginning of the coming age of security desires more research than it is being given. Sociologists seek the answer to determine what could cause this mass violence, here is the time for others to take on the role of those striving to stop it before it hits another city.