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Florida shooting leads to school resource officer debate

The shooting left and impact on the nation and a painful conversation about how to prevent children form losing their lives.

Posted: Feb. 21, 2018 6:34 PM
Updated: Feb. 21, 2018 9:03 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- At least 17 people were killed when police say Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The shooting left an impact on the nation and a painful conversation about how to prevent children from losing their lives. 

The Sheriff leading the investigation says Cruz fired into five classrooms on two floors before dropping the weapon and taking off. 

It led to the question of where the school resource officer was at the time of the shooting. The Sheriff confirmed the school resource officer was at the school during the shooting, but he never came across Cruz.

But, it does leaves concerns about safety in schools even when there is protection.

Brenda Simmons has been school resource officer for West Vigo Middle School for about one year.

"I go home at night and I'm smiling... I'm happy," Simmons said. 

She says she does it all for the kids.

"I've always loved working with kids," she said. 

She spend two days at Honey Creek Middle School and three days with the kids at West Vigo. 

"We are not just here to scare the kids," she said. "We are here to help."

Simmons says she serves as a mentor and someone to talk to. 

"You have that one-on-one and they get to know you," she said. 

The students are her kids she never had. Simmons was devastated when she heard about the mass shooting at a Florida high school. "It broke my heart, Simmons said. "Yet, another school shooting."

The shooting killed nearly 17 students and left several injured. 

"God-forbid it ever happens here," Simmons said. "We just try to do the best we can."

Simmons says she checks nearly 15 doors numerous times in a day. And, she keeps a close eye on more than 30 security cameras inside and around the building. 

"A lot of these kids just want to be heard," she said. 

Simmons will tell you it's not about the security measures. "People give warnings and we have to take heed to those warnings," she said. 

She says it all comes down to listening to the children. It is all about having a healthy relationship.

"Let's keep that open communication with us and the kids and the family," Simmons said. 

There is one resource officer for each of the West Vigo schools. Simmons says the officers are there to listen. But, police ask if you do ever see or hear of any unusual activity to call them immediately. 

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