As students organize walkouts on Wednesday, school staff are making plans of their own.
On Wednesday, hundreds of school walkouts are planned across the country. Through them, students hope to spark change in gun laws following last month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Ahead of the events, schools in the Denver metro say they're placing a strong focus on student safety. A few schools have sent letters home to parents about their strategies. The interim superintendent for Douglas County School District even made a YouTube video with theirs. Every letter -- and the YouTube video -- seems to relay the same message: the schools want to respect to students' voices as long as they do it in a safe manner.
A former Denver police officer is weighing in on the matter after he was injured during a student walkout in 2014. The walkout was in protest to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson.
In a detailed letter to Douglas County School District, John Adsit described being hit and dragged half a block by a car while protecting students who were walking in the street.
"Douglas County Schools, PLEASE do not place our children, your students and our law enforcement personnel in harm’s way on March 14th," Adsit wrote. "Learn from the mistakes made by others that almost cost me my life."
DCSD told 9NEWS they're working with all four law enforcement agencies in the county to keep students safe. They wouldn't reveal specifics of their plan because they said that's one of their safety measures.
A spokesperson for the Denver Police Department said they're working with Denver Public Schools during Wednesday's walkouts, too.
Read Adsit's full letter below:
I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is John Adsit and I am a retired Denver police officer. I currently have two children who attend Douglas County High School and I have some serious concerns regarding the upcoming walkouts on March 14th. I have viewed your video regarding how the School District plans to handle these potential walkouts.
First and foremost, my deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of the 17 victims who were mercilessly killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on February 14th of 2018. Their lives and legacies will NEVER be forgotten.
A little over three years ago, I was almost killed, and several of my partners were injured (physically and mentally) because of a “Walkout Protest” from a high school here in Colorado. Although the protest at that time was focused on the actions of the police (as it related to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri), the school’s administration facilitated this non-permitted, chaotic, unorganized, dangerous and life-threatening walkout. As an American, father and sworn law enforcement officer, I gladly did my job that day to protect each student and teacher who walked out of that high school on December 3, 2014.
However, their right to “freedom of expression” should not have included allowing these young people (many of whom were minors) to “take” the city streets and walk illegally down the middle of them. A few of these students even began jumping on an occupied police vehicle—placing the officer inside at great risk. On that day, the police were ordered to simply conduct traffic control and not arrest or cite those violating the law. This day would have turned out differently if these students and teachers had just been willing to walk on the sidewalk and obey traffic signals.
On March 14th, if Douglas County students (as well as students across the nation) want to protest the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, I do not have an issue with that. However, I (as a father and critically-injured, medically-retired police officer) do have a serious problem with school administrators allowing young children (again many being minors) to walk out of school and protest without having a comprehensive security plan in place. This plan should include working with local law enforcement, school security and student organizers beforehand so that students are aware that no illegal actions will be tolerated and that EVERYONE’S safety is the highest priority.
There is no doubt in my mind that our incredible men and women of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Castle Rock Police Department will be working diligently that day (as they and all law enforcement officers do every day) to keep our children safe.
I would still be protecting students and the community today if students knew that there would be consequences to any illegal action – to include illegally walking down the middle of the street. Thank God that on the day I was almost killed, the driver of the vehicle that hit and dragged me underneath for half a block, turned the wheel of his car to the right, instead of to the left. Had that driver uncontrollably turned his vehicle to the left, untold harm would have come to countless students who were protesting in the middle of the street.
Douglas County Schools, PLEASE do not place our children, your students and our law enforcement personnel in harm’s way on March 14th. Learn from the mistakes made by others that almost cost me my life.