GEE AND URSULA

Military veteran defends decision to patrol school grounds armed in Thurston County

Sep 30, 2022, 3:28 PM

Military Veteran...

Anthony Triplett Jr., a military veteran and member of Veteran Overwatch, volunteers roughly 20 hours a week patrolling the campus borders of various schools in the North Thurston County area. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Anthony Triplett Jr., a military veteran and member of Veteran Overwatch, volunteers roughly 20 hours a week patrolling the campus borders of various schools in the North Thurston County area.

He wears a bulletproof vest while carrying a pistol near school grounds.

While legal in practice — Washington state has an open-carry law and he is also licensed to carry a concealed weapon — local law enforcement, the school district, and parents have raised concerns over his presence.

“I do have a very, very good background in privatized security protecting executives at the Boeing Company all the way down to the janitor level the last five years,” Triplett Jr. said on the Gee and Ursula Show. “And after the Uvalde massacre, it really hit home for me because my kids, I have two young daughters, and my kids were asking me, worried, if they have to go back to school because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Triplett Jr. stated he had spoken with local officers and deputies before he began showing up near school campuses.

“I’m just trying to act as a deterrent to the evil people that want to try to do something to our kids in our schools,” Triplett Jr. said. “And I think it really helps … families are coming up to me, thanking me and crying [with] overwhelming support because I’m just out there doing what I can do to help out.”

Last month, The Olympian published a letter to the editor from a woman voicing her concerns about the support Triplett Jr. has received from Thurston County Sheriff’s candidate Derek Sanders and the relationship between them.

Sanders served as deputy sheriff for six years with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office and has been in close contact with Triplett Jr.

Meanwhile, Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza has stated publicly he would like Triplett to leave the security to the professionals. Snaza is seeking reelection this November against Sanders.

State Senator Patty Kuderer empathized with Triplett Jr.’s efforts, saying what he’s doing “is a damning statement of where we are as a society,” according to CNN Newsource.

In 2021, the average priority one response time was nearly 11 minutes for the Seattle Police Department, as law enforcement agencies across the state have struggled with staffing and recruitment.

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“The reality is, and [Sanders] told us this in our last meeting, it can take up to 20 minutes for the first officer to respond to a call because they’re so short-staffed and overwhelmed right now,” Triplett Jr. said.

Veteran Overwatch is an organization that offers career coaching and resources to veterans while also advertising programs like spousal outreach, financial services, and health programs. The organization hosts local community meetings open to the public, as Triplett Jr. stated city council members, among other concerned residents, have come out and talked publicly.

“Like I said, I’m not rushing in trying to be a vigilante, I want to make that very clear,” Triplett Jr. said. “Where I’m standing there being a deterrent, a very good day, absolutely nothing happens.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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