Update: This story was updated on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 10:45 a.m. with a comment from the Boulder Police Department.
After Boulder police arrested an 18-year-old last week for alleged threats of violence against Fairview High, rattling the community, some parents are clamoring for additional measures to protect their children.
Several parents have called on the district to bring back armed police to fend off potential active shooters. Others want the district to hire private security guards, similar to those who stand in the doorways at Whole Foods supermarkets or at synagogues.
In the meantime, at least one parent of a Fairview student said he has already taken matters into his own hands.
“I’ve been personally patrolling outside of Fairview with a bunch of other dads,” Raviv Turner said in an interview. “I cannot give you details. But we are there. And we are legally there and we all have [concealed carry] permits and we are staying outside of school grounds, of course.”
Turner, a tech entrepreneur who said he served with the Israeli military, has told the district about his plans. In emails to the district, he said having armed people near the school could cut response times to an active shooting down to seconds from minutes or longer.
“Every day that passes can be a day of another active shooting at BVSD,” he told Boulder Reporting Lab.
District officials told Boulder Reporting Lab they have concerns about parents showing up near schools with guns. They said the district has notified the Boulder Police Department.
“If [police are] responding to a possible threat, we thought it would be helpful for them to be aware that we’ve received interest from those parents possibly carrying [firearms],” Randy Barber, chief communications officer for BVSD, said in an interview.
The Boulder Policer Department referred questions about the armed parents to BVSD. In an email, it said it “encourages anyone who owns a firearm to do so responsibly and in accordance with all laws and legal requirements.”
BVSD said they have not received reports of armed parent patrols at the school. Boulder Reporting Lab was not able to confirm other parents’ involvement.
While acknowledging people’s anxiety and anger, district officials worry such a response from parents could potentially pose additional risks for students. (With some exceptions, carrying a gun on school property is a felony.)
“We are concerned that armed volunteers patrolling in and around schools could create confusion, additional trauma for students, and initiate and complicate a mass law enforcement response,” Brendan Sullivan, the district’s director of safety, security and emergency services, wrote in the email to Turner, which was obtained by Boulder Reporting Lab through an open records request. “This would make our students and staff less safe, rather than more. We will continue to follow BVSD’s security protocols, engage with law enforcement, and implement the recommendations of law enforcement. We will also continue to listen to our community.”
Residents are no stranger to tragedies of the gun violence crisis. In 2021, 10 people were killed during a mass shooting at the King Soopers supermarket in South Boulder. In this disconcerting new reality, students frequently practice drills to lock doors and hide under desks. These fears were renewed following the deadly shootings at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and once again this week, at a high school in St. Louis.
Last week, according to a Boulder Police Department news release, a man who does not attend Fairview made “two posts to social media with threats of violence toward Fairview High School.” Details remain scarce. Boulder Police Department denied Boulder Reporting Lab’s request for arrest records due to an ongoing investigation. Turner said the patrols were spurred by the incident.
“I got a call from my son last Wednesday, when the news broke, to come pick him up and he feels unsafe,” Turner said. “Our kids feel unsafe at school.”
Such threats have prompted calls for more police in schools — known as school resource officers — and in some Colorado communities, for more teachers to take up arms.
In 2020, Boulder Valley School District board members passed a resolution to phase out police officers from schools as part of a border effort to reduce the “disproportionality in student discipline and referrals to law enforcement.” Denver Public Schools similarly removed officers. Black and Latino students are more likely to be suspended or referred to police for the same kinds of behaviors as white students. Such punishment makes it harder to excel academically and increases the chances of entering the criminal legal system.
The district has hired unarmed “school safety advocates” who monitor student behavior and work with school administrators to respond to potential acts of violence.
“I don’t think it’s that far of a stretch to say that there are unprecedented threats to schools,” Barber said. “It’s understandable that parents are concerned.”