Preparedness in schools can help prevent tragedies
In the wake of the school shooting tragedy in Connecticut, both Arizona's governor and the state's top education official have pointed to the need for public schools to make sure they are as secure and as prepared as they can be to deal with threats.
Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal said his department helps provide training for school personnel in threat assessment and violence prevention but it is up to individual schools to ask for it – something he urged them to do. Gov. Jan Brewer echoed the theme of ensuring our schools are safe Monday.
Fortunately, Yuma's schools took this message to heart even before the most recent event.
Officials for the various local school districts have training in place to detect potential tragedies and to react quickly to threats. They also have protocols in place for increased security at campuses and for lockdowns when there is a potential risk.
In a lockdown situation, the schools are secured against entry and students are kept in classrooms. They are used anytime there is a security concern, even if it seems remote, and remain in place until school officials are assured the situation is safe.
Local school officials also maintain communications on an ongoing basis with law enforcement agencies which in turn give priority to dealing with potential threats to school safety.
For example, in a recent incident in San Luiz, Ariz., police responded to a report of a student possibly having a weapon at San Luis High School. The campus was locked down and police tracked down the suspect. It was discovered the “weapon” was actually a large hall pass with a metallic attachment.
We would all agree that even though this didn't turn out to be a true threat, it was better to be safe than sorry in today's environment.
The unfortunate reality is that there is no absolute way to prevent these violent attacks because they are rare and unpredictable whether at a school or elsewhere. The common theme is they involve mentally deranged individuals who are determined to do harm. It is a complex issue with no simple solution despite the desire of many to have an easy fix.
The best policy is to simply to be aware and prepared, and we can be grateful our local schools are attempting to do that.