The Tucson Police Department and faculty at La Paloma Academy South teamed up to teach their students about gun safety, school safety, and how to interact with officers, over the course of three assemblies. The big message they wanted to get across to students: "If you see something, say something."
"Would you rather have one person in trouble, and 23 dead or wounded?" Principal Paul Bummer asked his students. "Or, one person in trouble with 23 people alive and well?"
He asked that question to his students after a recent incident where a student brought a BB gun to class put his campus on lockdown. La Paloma Academy South has been placed on lockdown before because of incidents in the surrounding neighborhoods, but this was the first time an on-campus incident put it on lockdown.
"Scary for all of us," he said, speaking about the incident. "Because you know, from the looks of it, you can't tell if it's a real gun or if it's a fake gun."
The gun turned out to be a BB gun, not a real gun, and was never fired. But nevertheless, he and the police say it shouldn't have been there in the first place.
Bummer explained many students knew about the gun but didn't speak up right away. He thinks some of them were afraid of being considered a "tattle tale," and they wanted to protect their friend from getting in trouble. The fact that some of the kids knew about the gun and said nothing really concerned him.
"Unfortunately, we have a lot of good people that are harmed based on people not coming forward and standing up for what is right," he said.
Bummer and the police say the motto and mindset are applicable everywhere -- not just on school grounds.
"You can apply it everywhere," one of the officers said. "Not just here at school, but at home as well."
"We want to make sure you know what to do so we can help you," the other officer said to the students.
As the principal, Bummer feels it's his personal responsibility to make sure his students are prepared for everything -- meaning the good times and the bad times.
"We want to provide a great, safe, environment in all areas," Bummer said. "And we want to educate these kids so they can grow up and have a happy, successful life."
So that's what he plans to do -- teach the kids, "if you see something, say something."