Elizabeth K. Allen: Suspension a problem | SteamboatToday.com

Elizabeth K. Allen: Suspension a problem

I recently found out Officer Kristin Bantle was “in trouble” with the police department and that she has been suspended from her position as school resource officer for teaching a girls safety class at the middle school and at the 2015 Girls to Women Conference held at Colorado Mountain College for eighth-graders.

My daughter attended the middle school class during P.E. She said it was really helpful and even taught some of her new self-defense moves to me and her brother. I then personally attended the class at the Girls to Women Conference as a volunteer and was very impressed with Officer Bantle’s professionalism and rapport with the girls. Sexual molestation is not an easy subject to talk about.

Apparently, Officer Bantle is in trouble (suspended/reassigned) because she encouraged the students to use the “F” word. When my daughter told me about that part of the class, I thought, “Uh, oh, someone is going to complain.” According to the recent article in Steamboat Today, one parent did complain.

Following a nationally recognized safety program, here is what Officer Bantle actually said and did: she gave the students information gleaned from jailed inmates on what these perpetrators look for in potential victims, such as timid posture, walking alone, etc. She gave the girls several tips on looking confident, safety notes, defensive moves, and scripts to say when approached by a molester. To their obvious shock, Officer Bantle told the girls to say in a loud, aggressive voice, “Get the (expletive) away from me!” She then had the girls practice some role playing with various mock-dangerous situations.

At first, the girls were embarrassed and unable to utter the phrase, probably because they had been told not to use that language and also there were adult instructors present. Officer Bantle patiently explained that the girls needed to sound confident, intimidating and serious to get the perpetrator to back off. Molesters will look for easier prey than someone who looks them in the eye (enabling identification), sounds confident and draws attention to the situation. That’s it.

In response to the newspaper’s article, some have questioned why we need a school resource officer. Besides giving much need information on drug use, underage drinking, etc., the school resource officer teaches about safety.

When one out of four females and one out of six males will be sexually molested or raped before they turn 18, can we really afford to lose dedicated safety advocates like Kristin Bantle working in our schools? If using a “bad” word will actually help my children avoid being attacked, then they have my permission to use it.

I have also been told that Officer Bantle is on the chopping block for being outspoken and for being the only female officer in the department. Knowledgeable people have told me that she has been passed over for at least five promotions because of her gender. I have tried to talk with someone at the police department about this because I don’t like to subscribe to rumors, but so far there has been only a lot of phone tag.

I think it is worth mentioning that the 2015 graduating class of Yampa Valley High School asked Officer Bantle to be their guest speaker and more than 73 school district educators have publicly supported Office Bantle’s reinstatement as the School Resource Officer. There is also a Facebook page dedicated toward Officer Bantle’s reinstatement:

A City Council meeting is scheduled today at 5 p.m. Many people are planning to attend to comment on this matter.

I hope by writing to all of you I have shed some light on a problem that doesn’t need to be a problem. Please use your collective administrative power, common sense and fair play to investigate this matter.

Elizabeth K. Allen

Steamboat Springs

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