Montgomery outlines four areas to help stop violent acts in schools

Mar 9, 2018, 8:13 PM
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery outlined multiple areas in helping prevent violent acts like the one in Parkland, Fla. Wednesday.

“In addressing the overall environment of school violence, I talk about four areas for us to look at and the first one has to deal with intervention and prevention at the lowest level possible,” Montgomery said.

Setting up conferences like “Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life,” which saw 3,600 people on hand at the last event, help get the word out and “give them the excuse to get involved.” In the most recent conference, adults and students were separated into groups with the adults meeting outside for breakout sessions, while the students had motivational speakers work with them indoors.

“We can talk about all the other intervention strategies to deal with school violence, but if we are not addressing some of the root causes and some of the circumstances that are leading some to engage in violence then all we are going to do is stay in this never-ending loop without getting to root causes,” Montgomery said.

The next area outlined was following a model where officers make rounds during the day to schools to write reports, talk with supervisors or other officers in the area and act as another “visible line of deterrents” out in front of the school.

“For some of these instances, and the individuals involved, that deterrence might have been enough to have them walk away or do something else,” Montgomery said. “Not in every circumstance, but in some of them.”

The third and fourth areas addressed were the school resource officers’ program — so there can be another visible line of defense within schools — and potentially having school districts identify key personnel that will be trained with a weapon for critical situations within the school so they can act during a “critical incident.”

And while the four steps in preventing violence on schools is written out, that’s not all that needs to be done.

“First and foremost, I think we really need to hammer home the need for us to teach teens on how to deal with these particular situations and circumstances and intervene in the lives of their peers. That’s where we are going to have our biggest impact,” Montgomery said. “Not waiting until we are trying to intervene and stop a violent incident that is already well underway.”

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Montgomery outlines four areas to help stop violent acts in schools