Posted: Monday, April 9, 2018 – 4:26 PM
By Courier staff
Many Beverly Hills residents received a hyperbole-filled flyer over the weekend, excoriating the Beverly Hills Police Department and its Police Chief, as well as local government officials.
The flier, authored by former Mayor Robert K. Tanenbaum, is a rambling two-page manifesto that criticizes Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli and her department’s school security policies.
Titled “Save Our Children” and distributed through the Beverly Hills North Homeowners Association, the flier preys on fear and uses misinformation to undermine the community’s confidence. The main point of Tanenbaum’s letter is to garner support for when he plans to appear before the City Council Tuesday night for an unagendized discussion to advocate for permanent, 24/7 armed security at the Beverly Hills Unified School District’s five campuses. Spagnoli estimates that such a plan would require the department to hire more full-time sworn officers, costing the City at least $2 million. The Board of Education has not assumed any financial responsibility for the City’s new security measures.
Based on his widely-distributed flier, Tanenbaum seems to believe that Beverly Hills should be protected against unidentified antagonists by a militia of armed police swarming at all hours throughout school campuses.
As evidenced by the failure of the armed School Resource Officer (SRO) to step in and attempt to slow down or stop troubled student Nikolas Cruz’s on-campus massacre during February’s tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida; having armed police is not a guaranteed foolproof deterrent.
Tanenbaum concedes in his invective that “there may be no guarantee that they can prevent these criminal acts from occurring.”
The idea of armed security, on the surface, is not a problem. Whether you agree or disagree about the path to ensuring safe schools, the Courier believes everyone can find common ground on the fact that the safety of our school children and the staff that teach them is of the utmost importance.
What is a problem for many who have received the flier, however, is the vitriol spewed in Tanenbaum’s letter. In it, he claims local government and police have “failed” to provide adequate security and says that, in his words, the “hapless” Spagnoli’s department presents “old hat reactive and ineffective methods” of policing in response to potential school security threats.
To the contrary, there has been no evidence of any failure on the part of the BHPD and its ability to protect Beverly Hills schools.
Tanenbaum’s attacks on the police department fail to address the mental health aspect to the country’s school shooting dilemma and the ease with which youth are able to obtain firearms. Statistics, in fact, show that the majority of school shootings are carried out by troubled current or former students.
The Wall Street Journal released a report Friday studying all 32 school shootings since 1990 where at least three victims were killed.
In that study, the Journal found “most shooters are white male teenagers. In 25 of the cases, the shooters were teenagers or younger. Of the 20 of those cases where details were available on where the shooter got the gun, 17 were sourced at home, with a few also getting some weapons from relatives.”
The BHPD, in fact, has been proactive in tracking down threats and dealing with troubled students through their computer forensics team, youth detectives and SROs.
“Our security recommendations complement a solid safety plan,” Spagnoli told the Courier.
Spagnoli has implemented a strategy that incorporates the pertinent anomalies of the Beverly Hills student population. Through the end of the current school year, there are five SROs – one in each school – and five Adopt-A-School officers, as well as two detectives and a team of computer forensics officers in the youth services program.