Editorial – Swift police response prevents unthinkable

Published 2:27 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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Typically, Suffolk News-Herald coverage of the last day of school is full of fun, complete with photos of happy students and teachers, ready to embark on the adventures that await them during summer. There may be a few tears from a student here or there who will miss their friends or a particular teacher, but overall, most everyone is having a good time when the buses roll out on the last day of school. 

The school year ended very differently for one Suffolk elementary school on Friday. Students of Kilby Shores Elementary spent their final hours of the 2023-2024 school year in a code red lockdown because an adult male had gained unauthorized access to the school and occupied a girl’s bathroom while students were occupying the same bathroom. We can only imagine what was going through those young students’ minds and how terrified those children in the bathroom must have been on a day that was supposed to be a joyful one. Many of us on the staff of the Suffolk News-Herald are parents and hearing your child’s school is on code red lockdown for unauthorized access is on the top of the list of things that puts a pit in your stomach. While this event was particularly unsettling and poses more questions than answers, there is one thing that can’t be questioned right now. In our opinion, that is the quick response time of our Suffolk Police Department. 

Based on the information the City of Suffolk provided, SPD was on the scene two minutes after receiving the call. 

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The whole ordeal was over without any injuries in approximately seven minutes — let us say that again: seven minutes from call to custody. Although it must have felt like a lifetime to those students and staff, the speed and accuracy of our police officers prevented this situation from being anything more than unauthorized access. 

Just as you and I are not perfect, neither are police officers. However, they put their lives on the line day in and day out for our community—people they may or may not even know. They purposely put themselves in trouble, which is especially evident when it comes to protecting our children. They did just that on Friday, and we like to think they did so without hesitation. 

For that, as parents and as citizens, we owe them a tremendous amount of gratitude. We know those children in the bathroom will carry this experience with them for the rest of their lives. That is an incredibly unfortunate fact and one that begs more questions about how this event was able to occur in the first place. Unfortunate as it may be, it is equally as fortunate that this story didn’t end differently. We are glad that our Suffolk Police force was there within minutes and that we did not have to go on to report the unthinkable on what should be one of the happiest days of the hundred and eighty.