Threat Identification, Deterrance and Response in our Schools
THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMAIL WE RECEIVED FROM THE SAN TAN VALLEY THINK TANK REGARDING AN UPCOMING MEETING WHICH WILL ADDRESS VIOLENCE AND VULNERABILITY IN OUR SCHOOLS. IF YOU’D LIKE TO ATTEND THERE IS AN EMAIL ADDRESS AT THE BOTTOM TO RSVP WITH.
Next Meeting of the San Tan Valley Think Tank is Thursday January 24, 2013 at the CAC San Tan Center from 2 to 4pm. Please try to attend.
Since the terrible school shootings in Sandy Hook CT a few weeks ago I have been hearing more and more about putting more guns in schools. Sheriff Babeu and Attorney General Horn appear to be supporting dealing with the threat of shooting violence by placing armed non-law enforcement personnel including teachers and administrators into the schools as a response. I do not hear other options being discussed. I believe that we should be focusing upon ways to keep the threat from gaining access into the school rather than just confronting it after the threat has entered the building.
As the Executive Director of the San Tan Valley Think Tank I would like to place this topic on our next meeting agenda to explore other potential options. I have thought about a three level program that might bear discussion. It is based upon keeping the potential threat (shooter) from gaining access to the school in the first place. The three levels of the plan are:
1. Threat Identification
2. Threat Deterrence
3. Threat Response
Threat Identification is the opportunity to train the teachers and staff in how to identify a potential threat, how to prevent threat entry and how to respond to protect our children. Unfortunately many of our children can be potential threats; gang members have appeared in schools; some parents and community members are recognized as potential problems. We also have the problem compounded when an incarcerated individual is released back into the local community where their family has taken up residence. Just as we have fire drills on a regular basis we should add a threat response to these drills and make them seamless regardless of the type of threat.
Threat Deterrence is exploring ways to keep the threat out of the school building and ensure that public entry is controlled. Unfortunately lockdown procedures do not ensure student safety and may be called only after the threat is within the school. Our schools are too open and the staff too lax in managing entry. If a potential threat comes to the school reception area, he/she will face unprotected staff and easy access. There are many security measures that should be explored with deterrence in mind.
Threat Response is exploring ways to deal with a threat once an individual has gained access to the facility. For years SRO officers has been assigned to schools. These are law enforcement officers whose primary purpose is in threat identification and response. They assist in community relations and helping children in their law enforcement relations but the primary reason for them is an armed law enforcement presence who could react when a threat is identified. We need to find ways of having a law enforcement presence rather than arming teachers and administrators who live in a law abiding world and are not trained to take the life of another individual.
I believe this is worthy of debate followed by the issuance of a position paper with wide distribution at the local, County and State levels especially within the education community.
It is important that we have representatives from the education community present. In addition please contact those that you feel can add value to the discussion. I will be contacting Sheriff Babeu and Attorney General Horn as well as others in Pinal County Government.
Please email if you intend to join us.