South Dakota Officials Drag Keystone Politics into School Bomb Drill

from Wildlife Promise

Fall River County Courthouse, Rapid City, SD (Jimmy Emerson/Flickr)

Fall River County Courthouse, Rapid City, SD (Jimmy Emerson/Flickr)

Officials in South Dakota’s Hot Springs somehow decided it would be a good idea to insert their personal politics into a disaster drill:

While the drill actually commenced at 12:30 p.m., things began early when a bus driver reported a suspicious SUV with several people following during his morning route. Next, a letter handed to a student at the Elementary School over the lunch hour is turned in to Principal. The letter threatens that “things dear to everyone will be destroyed unless continuation of the Keystone pipeline and uranium mining is stopped immediately.”

While the entire scenario was scripted, the use of pertinent and timely issues seemed to make it more realistic. Similar letters were scripted to have been sent to the other respective schools, each of which had slightly different scenarios presented to them. In preparation for the drill, and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) had been set up in the basement of the Fall River County Courthouse. The same doctrine was followed during the bomb threat that occurred at the school earlier this year.

“Realistic”? I’m no terrorism expert, but I can’t name one incident in recent years that was preceded by a foreshadowing letter laying out the attack’s motivations. Were the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and mining references about realism, or about inserting personal politics into a school safety drill?

Reasonable people can debate the best public policy, something the National Wildlife Federation and our state affiliates do every day with politicians of all political stripes. But trying to use a safety drill to indoctrinate our children that conservationists are terrorists? That’s cowardly and just plain wrong.

Politics have no place in school safety. If officials want to debate conservation and energy policy, they should do it in the public arena, not in the classroom.