What We Can Do About Mass Shootings

By Dr. Adam Lankford

Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice

University of Alabama

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As many Americans recognize, our country's public mass shooting problem has been getting worse. The five deadliest mass shooting incidents in national history have all occurred since 2007. And in the past decade, the average number of victims killed per attack has increased by more than 40%, compared to the previous half-century.

The best way to fight back against these disturbing trends is for everyone to do their part. It's not enough to blame politicians, the firearms industry, or the media corporations, and then stop there. Yes, we would be safer if red flag laws were passed in all 50 states, if dangerous and disturbed people had less access to powerful weapons, and if mass shooters were not incentivized to kill large numbers of victims for fame and attention. And yes, demanding progress from policymakers and decisionmakers is an important public response to this growing threat.

But parents, teachers, and students can also help reduce the risks of a mass shooting in their community by paying attention to potential warning signs. According to research conducted by the FBI (https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/pre-attack-behaviors-of-active-shooters-in-us-2000-2013.pdf/view) and scholars such as myself (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332175890_Are_the_Deadliest_Mass_Shootings_Preventable_An_Assessment_of_Leakage_Information_Reported_to_Law_Enforcement_and_Firearms_Acquisition_Prior_to_Attacks_in_the_United_States?), mass shooters often exhibit many concerning behaviors that are witnessed by their friends, family, teachers, and coworkers—including openly admitting that they are excited by the idea of committing a mass shooting.

The key is to report this information to law enforcement. Regular citizens outnumber police officers in the United States by a ratio of more than 300:1, which means they observe and hear warning signs that a police officer may never witness. In most cases, if you report this information, no one will be arrested or get into any serious trouble. Law enforcement simply takes over the burden of determining the presence or absence of danger—and is able to "connect the dots" if other members of your community have also reported concerns. In fact, sometimes reporting someone's threats actually leads to an improvement in that person’s life, through counseling or other positive interventions.

As decades of research on suicide prevention have shown, sometimes the best way to save someone's life is to take their actions and statements seriously. Don't dismiss comments about self-harm or harming others as jokes or attention-seeking behavior. Sometimes these statements really are a 'cry for help,' and you have an important opportunity to make a difference.

The Research Partnership Between Law Enforcement and Schools

By Dr. Timothy Servoss,

Associate Professor of Psychology at Canisius College,Buffalo, New York,

and co-leader of the “School Security Measures” research meeting

sponsored by the Spencer Foundation in Washington, D.C. in the Fall of 2018.


Effective partnerships between schools and law enforcement are essential for producing safe and healthy environments. To determine the effectiveness of these partnerships, research must be conducted. Let’s look at two areas where we have research findings related to school-law enforcement interaction: 1) Student perceptions of School Resource Officers (SROs); and ) Student arrests, and how they relate to SROs and the role of enforcing school discipline.

 One thing that SROs can take away from recent research about this partnership is an awareness and appreciation of the diversity of student perceptions regarding SRO presence in the school. An SRO may be viewed as a protector, helper or mentor by some students. But SROs may be seen by other students as a threat, nuisance, or just another power-hungry adult in the school who is there to hassle them. Because an SRO is there, some students may feel safer; because an SRO needs to be there, some students may feel less safe.

 What about SRO roles and student arrests? Research using the most recent national data provides a clear answer here. Schools where SROs are involved in school discipline arrest significantly more students than schools where SROs do not take on this disciplinary role. Other roles that SROs commonly take on, such as security enforcement and patrol, coordinating with local police or emergency teams, mentoring students, and student/teacher education are not associated with increases in student arrests. Bottom line, SROs should avoid getting involved in school discipline.

 While research on school-based law enforcement continues, SROs, educators, and researchers need to work together to figure out how learnings are applied to make schools safer and, at the same time, help get students the supports they need to stay in school and out of involvement with the justice system.


 For more on SRO research, click on PUBLICATIONS and see the article "How SRO Programs Can Benefit from Research" by Tim Servoss and John Rosiak, published in the Summer 2019 Issue of the Journal of School Safety.

Restorative Practice and Partnerships

By Craig Adamson, PhD, Provost, International Institute for Restorative Practices,

and Keith Hickman,Director of Continuing Education, IIRP

Partnership is an important theme for restorative practices work. To promote and sustain this emerging social science that strengthens relationships between individuals, as well as social connections within communities, we need partnerships between all kinds of organizations in our community, including education, youth serving organizations, law enforcement and justice, social services, faith-based, and many more.  

 The practice of restorative justice, a subset of restorative practices, itself is reactive, consisting of formal or informal responses to wrongdoing after it occurs. It involves building social capital within a partnership in order to use restorative processes to determine how best to repair the harm done by an offense to its members. This powerful change in a partnership, reinforces the most critical function of restorative practices which is to restore and build meaningful relationships.

 When we include those harmed, wrongdoers, and their communities of care as primary stakeholders, we then create the space for reparation and responsible actions to occur. When we are particularly attentive to those that felt wronged, we would ask: What did you think when you realized what happened? What impact has the incident had on you and others? What has been the hardest thing for you? What do you think needs to happen to make things right? This generates an emotional exchange necessary for meeting the needs of all members involved.

 Learn more about how restorative practices can transform individuals and communities. Check out: 



Preventing Crime is Everyone’s Business


By Valerie Mariano,

Branch Chief,

Community and Crime Prevention Branch,

Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Division,

Department of the Attorney General,

State of Hawaii.

No longer is preventing crime the job of only law enforcement. Rather, making our communities safe and healthy requires a multi-sector, village approach.  It is important for individuals to understand that each person living and working in our community can make a difference on the development of resilient youth, so they can become leaders in our society.  Everyone from law enforcement, teachers, school administrators, custodians, cafeteria workers, volunteers, coaches, music and art instructors, health professionals, business leaders, and others in the community can be a positive contributor to the safety and well-being of young people.

 As we work with those in crime prevention, substance abuse prevention, sexual assault prevention, violence prevention, etc.—partnership is key. 

 What are the components of such a partnership? 

•             It takes time.

•             Face-to-face meetings develop trusting relationships.

•             Respect for the other party/agency/organization partner is critical.

•             You need to know you can count on others to participate equally through their contribution of staff or material resources, funding, etc.

•             People need to trust that any communication to the public will show each party/agency/organization as an equal partner (and no one will take sole credit for a good job done).

•             Words must be followed by action.

•             There can be no hidden agendas, and…

•             Communication with all players is key!

Partnerships: Ingredients for Success

By Jack Calhoun, Senior Consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice and National League of Cities; Founding President of the National Crime Prevention Council; Former Commissioner of the U.S. Administration for Children, Youth, and Families; Author of Hope Matters, and Policy Walking: Lighting Paths to Safer Communities, Stronger Families, and Thriving Youth. www.hopematters.org/

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Much has been written about partnerships, the information swap, regularly scheduled meetings, MOU’s, and more. But the key ingredient that makes partnerships vital is usually omitted.

Most partnerships are a bit like a marriage on autopilot, namely all doing what they’ve always done, but this time with others. And yet, given the dynamic nature of crime and violence, the shifts and composition of families and communities, its economic and demographic situation constantly in flux, the best of partnerships require flexibility and a willingness to do business in a different way.

To get there one needs a jointly-shaped and shared vision; leadership by a mayor, school superintendent or county commissioner; and a readiness on the part of all partners to alter, if only in part, what they’ve always done.

In 2007 I helped to start the California Cities Violence Prevention Network. CCVPN was based on the notion that nothing would change unless all key actors, civic and governmental, pledged to specific actions along a prevention, intervention, enforcement, and re-entry axis. Policy changed. Attorney General Eric Holder cloned it as the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, and Canada did the same via the “Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention.” And practice changed. The most successful cities saw changes in how business was traditionally done: Police added a minority (faith) voice to its academy training in Long Beach, CA; the Boston Police Department stationed social workers in its precincts; police tutored elementary school kids in Santa Rosa, CA; school systems altered suspension policies; Oakland’s Public Health Department opened hospitals to Violence Interrupters (or Peace Keepers) in efforts to stop retaliation; mayors established citywide task forces, e.g. the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace (CASP) in Salinas, CA, and the Mayor’s Violence Prevention Task Force in San Jose.

It is important to note where such partnerships didn’t work and why. Three reasons: Leadership interest waned; task force meetings where all parties were held accountable slowed; all reverted to business as usual, i.e. silos. And in those cities, crime rose.

It can be done, but it takes work: A committed leader who will convene; a shared vision; specific commitments on the part of each sector; an entity, such as CASP, that holds agencies accountable for their commitments (peer pressure goes a long way). And it takes openness and even guts for a silo leader to be open to doing business in a different way.

But to repeat: Dynamic partnerships are essential if crime is to be reduced, and community life vitalized. It can be done, and those in such partnerships find it exciting and rewarding.

Partnerships Based on Respect and Relationships

By Olga Acosta Price, Ph.D.
Director of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS)

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I am the very proud mother of a young man of color (and an elementary-age daughter of color--have to mention her so she doesn’t get jealous!) but I am also an anxious mother who, in light of the recent tragedies at Santa Fe and Parkland High Schools, is having a harder time sending her son off to middle school every day. I am also an associate professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at GW and the director of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS), so I know that despite public perceptions, schools remain one of the safest places for our children.  Yet, my parental concern is not without some merit, especially when layered on top of the anxiety about my son encountering law enforcement—whether in or out of school. 

I recently attended an MOBB (Moms of Black Boys) event with my 12-year-old son to learn about strategies he can employ to increase the likelihood he’ll be safe and return home alive following an encounter with the police. Because I am invested in preventing additional tragedies in whatever ways I can, I took the following notes:

  • Law enforcement does have the authority to stop us and question our whereabouts. Although we may feel frustrated about being stopped when we did nothing wrong, we are not always privy to the information that is driving that officer’s actions—so it is best to answer all questions and try to end the engagement as quickly as possible.
  • Stay calm, do not raise your voice, and do not run, no matter how scared you are.  Keep your hands visible at all times and do not make any sudden movements.  If you happen to get arrested, do not resist arrest and do not say anything until your parents or a lawyer arrives.
  • Although we should always comply, we are well within our rights to politely ask questions. My son was encouraged to ask for the officer’s ID and badge (because even plain-clothed police can question him so it is important he is not giving out personal information to a total stranger) and to inquire whether he has done anything wrong.  If my son is not being detained and his answers do not raise any concerns, he should be free to leave after the initial 5-min contact—but he needs to wait for the officer to agree to release him before walking away.

On the one hand I was relieved to have some specific strategies to drill into my son’s head, but on the other hand I was furious and disempowered sharing these tips with my son.  I am still angry about operating from a position of fear, as well as transferring that fear to my son, in order to decrease the likelihood that his life is cut short.  I took deep breaths and contemplated how to channel these frustrations into a constructive path forward.

I came to the simple, but poignant, truth that part of the solution lies in our ability to have authentic relationships with one another. Mutual respect is paramount to ensuring safety and protecting each other, and respect cannot be created without relationships. In our community conversation we established that law enforcement officials deserve some level of respect simply for their willingness to “serve and protect” in the face of danger.  It was fairly easy for all of us to agree that they do not have an easy job. But, we also voiced the need for community members (young and old) to feel respected when officers entered into encounters with them.  We all conceded that it is much harder to be aggressive, and lack empathy, when we know something about the person behind the clothes--whether it is the uniform or the baggy jeans.

The same principle holds true for schools—adults’ ability to keep our children safe, to keep them engaged in learning, to foster their development as responsible and contributing citizens, is directly tied to our ability to teach them the power and the responsibility of relationships.  Yet, it is impossible to teach that life lesson if we ourselves are unwilling or unable to enter into meaningful relationships with students, their parents, or with each other.  In relationships, there are times we are the teacher, and other times that we need to be the student. Understanding the pressures, challenges, assets, priorities, world views that shape our students’ experiences, including their educational experiences, requires that we build trust and appreciate the realities they face. It also means we must accept that one person, or any one sector, cannot alone ameliorate the deep-seated risky or negative conditions that rob many children and their families of a sense of safety, hope, and optimism.

It dawned on me that the same idea holds true for organizations and sectors working together—respect cannot be created without relationships.  Partnership across systems is an essential ingredient if we aim to advance the health and well-being of all youth, but as someone once said “collaboration is an unnatural act between non-consenting adults.” Working to bridge the divide that exists among child-serving agencies, community partners, schools, and families is why CHHCS developed the Partner Build Grow online resource (http://actionguide.healthinschools.org/) to provide communities the practical steps to help them sustain initiatives that promote positive student development.  This action guide yields effective outcomes only when relationships and respect undergird these collective actions.

So, I am once again reminded of the power of relationships in our partnerships.  That in all of these settings or across circumstances we would do best to talk less and listen more, ask questions in place of directing orders, appreciate differences without requiring compliance.  I recognize this is all much easier said than done, but our success, and children’s well-being, and our boys’ safety, are at stake. So, right now, nothing else seems more important……. except to go and hug my son.

Collaboration That Serves Children and Families Requires 3 Ingredients

By Isaiah B. Pickens, Ph.D.
Assistant Director of Service Systems, National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital

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Collaboration is a core concept for any effective system aiming to serve children and families. As a clinical psychologist providing technical assistance nationwide to service providers, I have witnessed the challenges of systems that fail to speak the same language, and the power of systems that efficiently use resources to supplement services provided by other systems and providers.

Three major ingredients to collaboration are foundational for effectively collaborating:

  1.     Developing a common language about the services you are providing. Whether through training and professional development or cross-system teams, speaking the same language about the types of services you are providing and the aim of those services can reduce redundancy and increase efficiency.
  2.     Integrating self-checks and supervision that prompt consideration of collaboration. When the expectation is set that collaboration creates more efficient service provision and potentially less work, it becomes a priority for everyone.
  3.     Including clients and their families as collaborators. Fully engaging those you are servicing and overcoming some of the barriers to health equity in challenged communities, requires fully engaging the perspectives of clients and their families. This ensures services that reflect the values of the community in a manner that compels engagement.

Happy collaborating!

A Partnership Approach to Violence Prevention in Schools

By Dewey Cornell, Ph.D.,
Director, Virginia Youth Violence Project, University of Virginia.

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School shootings have generated a widespread misperception that schools are dangerous places requiring us to invest billions of dollars in building security measures. On the contrary, I testified at a Congressional hearing that schools are one of the safest places in our community. Although it has been reported that there have been more than 300 shootings at schools in the five years since the Sandy Hook shooting, CDC statistics tell us that there have been more than 500,000 shootings resulting in injury or death outside of schools. For every shooting in a school, there are 1,600 shootings outside of school. The real problem is gun violence, not school violence. Our tax dollars and human capital should be invested in preventing all gun violence, not just the tiny fraction that occurs in a school building. Our efforts to make our schools physically secure reduces funding available for prevention. Real prevention starts long before there is a gunman at the door. We need multi-tiered prevention programs that begin with making our schools psychologically safe and supportive climates where young people can learn and be successful, and include mental health services and threat assessment programs to intervene with troubled youth before their problems escalate into violence. The school threat assessment model we developed at the University of Virginia is a partnership approach in which a multidisciplinary team representing school administration, mental health, and law enforcement works to assess the seriousness of a student’s threat and respond with appropriate interventions. The team’s goal is both to prevent violence and to help the student resolve the underlying problem and be successful in school.  


Partnership (in Research) Requires a Common Vision and Flexibility

By Anthony Petrosino and Pamela MacDougall
WestEd Justice & Prevention Research Center



Partnership is key to all sorts of efforts related to safety and health. WestEd's Justice & Prevention Research Center conducts many projects in health and safety, and we have learned a lot about the value of having partners in conducting research. These lessons apply to collaborative efforts in general. Our research partners can include other research entities, but most often, we partner with a site (such as a district or a correctional agency) or a developer of a program (such as a bullying prevention program). For some projects, we will have multiple partners.


There are two important and intertwined qualities in a research partner:
1) Sharing a common project vision.
2) Being flexible.

In the initial stages of research, we usually hold a launch meeting with our partners to solidify our common goal and ensure that we are all on the same page on the study. But actually, those discussions about common goals start at the proposal stage; and they continue throughout a grant or contract. Usually the research vision is a lofty one: "To make a difference in the lives of youth by implementing a high-quality program and evaluation study." Having that shared vision can help when our projects go astray from the timeline or path we envisioned, and when tough choices need to be made. A good partner shares that overarching vision and, because of that, is willing to make some changes to ensure we are still able to reach our goal.

Because of our shared vision, our partners have been willing to be flexible when we need to make adjustments to the timeline, or the project needs to be tweaked along the way. We are reminded of the wonderful church sign that reads "Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape." Things invariably go wrong on a project, as much as we might like them not to, and that flexibility to work out solutions together can result in a stronger partnership. By having that shared vision and flexibility, we can approach challenges in a collaborative fashion and meet our common goal of doing the best possible study. This is all made possible by partnership.

Partnership is Essential for Behavioral Health (Posted for May—Mental Health Month)

By Captain Jeffrey Coady, Psy.D., Regional Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service

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Alignment, communication, collaboration, and coordination are more than just buzzwords—they are essential components for behavioral health stakeholders.  In order to effectively mitigate the impact of the mental illness and substance use disorders, we must develop multi-sectoral collaborations.  Whether we are a clinical provider, public health administrator, or public safety professional, it is incumbent upon us to not only know our role, but also be knowledgeable of the roles of other people/systems that link to our work, either on the front end or the back end.  Operationalizing these essential components is difficult, but necessary work, to address both the immediate and long-term impact of behavioral health conditions.

Partnership Lessons Learned from the Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) Initiative

By William Modzeleski, Former Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe Schools/Healthy Students

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A Federal View of Collaboration

In the late 1990’s there was a series of school shootings (Pearl, MS; Paducah, KY; Jonesboro, AR; Springfield, OR; Columbine, CO) that caused communities and school districts throughout the country to reassess their approach to school safety.  Decision makers at all levels of government understood that the traditional way of creating safe environments for learning needed to be radically altered.  Instead of dealing with school safety in a silo fashion—that is, schools taking action alone without help or support of organizations outside the educational bureaucracy—a more inclusive strategy needed to be adopted.

In 1999, three Federal agencies (U.S. Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services) banded together to form an unprecedented collaboration designed to prevent youth violence and promote the healthy development of youth.  The SS/HS Initiative was based on the premise that schools alone did not have the capacity to respond effectively to the wide range of social, emotional, and behavioral problems that confront school administrators and teachers on a daily basis. 

The SS/HS Initiative enabled more than 13 million youth to receive a wide range of services, including a variety of mental health services; after-school services; services to change culture and climate of schools; violence prevention related programs; and school security measures.  Communities in 49 States and 365 different communities received services under this initiative.

The SS/HS Initiative not only enabled school districts around the country to receive the resources needed to address a wide range of problems related to the safety and well being of their students, it also provided a number of “lessons learned” for those interested in developing a comprehensive safe school strategy similar to the SS/HS model.  The lessons learned include the following*:

1.  Be patient:
Most safe school strategies employed by schools were put together piecemeal over a number of years (some over decades), and haven’t proven to be effective in reducing violent behavior. Replacing institutionalized programs that had little evidence of effectiveness with programs and practices that have promise of success can take years.  Communities changing direction should be prepared to deal with this issue over multiple years!

2.  Be bold:
Adopting a strategy that involves multiple agencies often means there are going to be winners and losers.  Leadership has to have the wherewithal and support to force change and to revise and/or eliminate programs, policies, or practices that aren’t effective.  This has often proven to be difficult as some of a school’s institutionalized programs, practices and policies have considerable support.  Leadership needs to have backbone and be willing to do whatever is needed to eliminate those practices that can’t demonstrate that they are effective.

3.  Have a funding strategy:
Prevention and early intervention programs cost money! Prevention can’t always be done cheaply.  Those developing comprehensive strategies need to be prepared to find new avenues for funding, because without them, efforts for change will be severely handicapped.  Also, when developing a funding strategy, schools/communities need to reach out to other partners (businesses, foundations, entrepreneurs) for support as most schools don’t have the resources (both staff and dollars) necessary to support a truly comprehensive prevention/early intervention strategy.

4.  Identify a host of partners:
Over and over again, school officials will say, “We can’t do it by ourselves.”  Schools alone cannot provide all the services needed to develop a truly comprehensive approach to the safety and well being of students.  There is a need not only to find partners that can help schools achieve their objectives but also to ensure that the partners selected share the values and mission of the school district. Partners can support schools by providing them with: technical assistance, training, funding, and political support. 

5.  Measure effectiveness:
One of the most important things a school district/community needs to do is to find a way to measure the effectiveness of their programs, policies, and practices.  If a district can’t do this, they can’t expect to find support (financial or otherwise) from the community or from a governmental entity.

*A more comprehensive view of the SS/HS Initiative can be found at:  https://www.samhsa.gov/safe-schools-healthy-students



Partnerships: Stepping Up and Stepping In

By Eduardo Negron, Director of School Safety and Security, Milwaukee, WI, Public Schools. Former Police Captain in charge of Milwaukee’s School Resource Officer Program.


Every school is its own community, much like the neighborhood or police district/precinct one resides in. Positive and negative things happen all the time, but communities have the power to influence their occurrence. If a community ignores the negatives, they can fester into something terrible. However, if they are addressed systematically, applying best practices, negative situations can be turned around. 

No one, or no single group of people, can do it alone. Whether it is a school community or a neighborhood, everyone present needs to exert their influence, step up, and step into problem-solving relationships.  In a neighborhood, it takes residents, business owners, police, schools, and others to make a sound place to live and enjoy life. In a school, it takes teachers, principals/administrators, students, parents, counselors, food staff, etc. and police to reach a point of trust with positive relationships.  Partnering and collaborating means building relationships that open up communications on all levels to address common concerns.

Partnerships Play a Key Role in Fostering Safe Schools: 6 Recommendations

Susan Gorin, CAE
Executive Director - National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

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School safety is vitally important for a climate that fosters learning and success at home, in school, and throughout life. Partnerships play a key role in fostering safe schools. That’s why a joint statement by six professional educational associations was developed to provide policy recommendations for improving school safety and increasing access to mental health supports for children and youth.

Efforts to improve school climate, safety, and learning are not separate endeavors. They must be designed, funded, and implemented as a comprehensive school-wide approach that facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration and builds on a multi-tiered system of supports. We caution against seemingly quick and potentially harmful solutions, such as arming school personnel, and urge policy leaders to support the following guidance to enact policies that will equip America’s schools to educate and safeguard our children over the long term.



1. Allow for blended, flexible use of funding streams in education and mental health services;

2. Improve staffing ratios to allow for the delivery of a full range of services and effective school–community partnerships;

3. Develop evidence-based standards for district-level policies to promote effective school discipline and positive behavior;

4. Fund continuous and sustainable crisis and emergency preparedness, response, and recovery planning and training that uses evidence-based models;

5. Provide incentives for intra- and interagency collaboration; and

6. Support multitiered systems of support (MTSS).

Reference: A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools, NASP, March 2015, www.nasponline.org/schoolsafetyframework

Partnering is Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court

By Chief Judge Steve Teske,
Juvenile Court of Clayton County, GA; National Board Chair of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice; Chair of the School Pathways Committee of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

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Many years ago, we changed the way we do business in our juvenile court by implementing best practices such as alternatives to detention. If we are going to be successful in “keeping kids in school and out of court,” collaborative partners from different disciplines in the community must play their part. The court cannot do it alone. When we use assessments to understand whether a young person is a risk to community safety, we need to make sure there are adequate mental health and social service supports to attend to that young person’s (and family’s) needs. Law enforcement needs to be aware of these approaches. Schools do too.  By adopting a model where all these community partners come together in collaborative fashion—to identify the offenses for which we are NOT going to arrest, expel, or suspend students—we can work together to better hold that young person accountable, and get them the help they need.

What are 5 Things to Consider Before Putting Cops in Schools?

By John Rosiak, Founder, Prevention Partnerships

Cops in schools: It’s a contentious issue in contemporary American society. Having worked at the nexus of education and law enforcement for more than 30 years, I have formed some observations and guiding questions that may help school and community leaders address the issue. Based on my experience working with some excellent SROs who really understand crime prevention and who do NOT want to arrest students, I believe police officers can be important partners in school safety. From my experience training School Resource Officers (SROs) in crime, drug, violence, and bullying prevention; and helping school administrators to develop effective policies and practices involving the use of law enforcement officers in schools, I know that we can establish the right climate of safety that is conducive to learning—IF we employ well-trained officers who genuinely like working with students.

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Here’s what we know about doing school-based law enforcement right:

  1. We must clearly define the roles of police in schools.
  2. We need to make sure that we select the most appropriate officers to work in our schools.
  3. We must make sure the SROs are adequately trained to do their job.
  4. We should define policy for a stronger partnership.
  5. We must engage community partners in the process.

The choice about whether to have law-enforcement officers in schools is an important local decision that should be weighed collaboratively by educators, law enforcement, parents, and other community stakeholders. Those collaborators should carefully consider these lessons to guide them in the process. In doing so, local communities can give our students the supports they need to stay in school—and out of the criminal-justice system.

Check out the fuller commentary on Education Week at: https://goo.gl/XVVXWy

Check out the fuller commentary on the Police Foundation's blog at: goo.gl/6AuHw9