All too often after a school shooting, it’s discovered that signs of student distress were missed by educators, law enforcement and counselors that, had there been intervention, perhaps a shooting tragedy could be prevented.
At Monday’s Super Commons Meeting inside the Lincoln Public Schools board room, LPS security director Joe Wright spoke about the preventative benefit of a full-time Threat Assessment Officer.
“Increasing the capacity of our threat assessment increases prevention and increases safety,” Wright said.
School Resource Officers was a big topic, where LPS board member Matt Schulte asked Public Safety Director Tom Casady about having school resource officers available at the start of the school day. It would conflict with the officers’ daily briefing.
But Casady said the major challenge is at the end of the school day, protecting the city while making sure order is in place at schools citywide.
“53 Lincoln Police officers on duty (between 3 and 4pm). There are 83 schools in Lincoln.”
A Joint Public Agency with taxing authority is seen as a way of paying for six new School Resource Officers for helping monitor LPS middle schools, a threat assessment officer and funding for mental and behavioral counseling and therapy. Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister is a firm believer in the JPA approach.
“We do not have a officer that is assigned full time to do threat assessment. That continuity, those relationships that would established within the school district will be improved through that full time presence,” Bliemeister said.
In the agreement with the JPA, it would establish a nonprofit organization, with a 12-member board of directors from the city, four from LPS and four from community nonprofits. They would make budget recommendations to the JPA and would coordinate funding for Community Learning Centers.