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Arizona DPS boss says students, teachers have role in school safety

Arizona Department of Public Safety head Col. Frank Milstead. (AP Photo)
LISTEN: Colonel Frank Milstead, Director of Arizona Department of Public Safety

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Public Safety director said it’s important for teachers and students to remain engaged in school safety, with or without changes in the law.

“I think it’s still incumbent upon us to set up a way for people to report suspicious activity,” Col. Frank Milstead told KTAR News FM 92.3. “I think it’s important that kids know what to expect when something does happen on their campus, what the police are going to do.”

The state Legislature adjourned Friday without taking action on a bill addressing the school safety.

A provision already had been removed from the bill that would have allowed family members to obtain a court order to remove guns from a person at risk of committing a shooting, and allowing them to be ordered held for a mental evaluation.

Milstead said police can’t do anything in response to concerns that a person is at risk if a crime hasn’t been committed. That leaves it up to others in cases such as that of the Parkland, Florida, shooter.

“Even though they had reported this guy, he had not committed any crimes. … With law enforcement, before we intervene, there has to be a crime committed,” he said.

“Before a school or counselor or somebody else [intervenes], that threshold would be much different.”

Milstead suggested that perhaps the threshold for intervention should be reconsidered.

“You will get pushback from certain entities that police not get involved too soon, but then sometimes it’s too late,” he said.

“And if a kid’s posting things on their open-source [social] media … that is disturbing, I think schools and others should have the right to go in and talk and try to figure out what’s going on, maybe before there is probable cause or reasonable suspicion.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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