My Statement on Reports Pertaining to the Training Provided to Burlington Students by the Burlington Police Department

To begin, I do not have any inside information pertaining to the story that is currently breaking about the “training exercise” recently delivered by Burlington Police to a group of Burlington students. My sources of information are likely to be the same sources to which the readers of this blog post would have access. In the Seven Days article posted today, the exercise is described as having a masked gunman burst into the room while firing actual gunshots (presumed blanks). The Reddit discussion on the incident includes reports from self-identified in-person participants and describes the scene that included students diving to the floor out of legitimate fear, expressed casings located on the floor in the aftermath, and a valid disbelief of those participants and their parents.

I am a lifelong educator who has spent a significant portion of my career designing training curriculum for delivery to college aged students across a vast variety of topics. I am nothing but horrified that anyone could have designed, approved, or delivered this sort of training, especially within the context of the pandemic of school violence in which we live. Our students are already trained on the unfortunate realities of how to respond to the very plausible likelihood that the next school shooting could very easily happen within their own classroom. For the Burlington Police Department to develop and deliver a “training exercise” that involves the staging of a surprise attack by a masked gunman firing actual gunshots (blanks or otherwise) is absolutely and without question indicative of leadership within that department that is so clearly out of touch and anything but able or willing to serve from a trauma informed perspective.

I am grateful to have complete and unconditional confidence in our Mayor’s ability to respond to this incident. That being said, my clearly stated hope is that BPD leadership come to the understanding of the scope of impact this incident has had on perpetuating the trauma of our school students and our community at large. With that understanding, it is my continued expectation that any person in leadership who had knowledge of or played a role in approving the delivery of this training exercise resign their position immediately. The harm and trauma likely to have been caused by this incident is horrifying and inexcusable.