Law Enforcement Discusses School Safety

Aug 21, 2019

Cal U alum and police chief Ken Truver among those who addressed a School Shooting Prevention Leadership Forum.

school safety

“If you see something, say something.”

The Department of Homeland Security’s well-known tagline sums up the best advice law enforcement can give to students and others who want to keep schools safe.

Castle Shannon police chief Ken Truver, who earned a master’s degree at Cal U in 1995, made that point as the University hosted a School Shooting Prevention Leadership Forum Aug. 21-22 at the Convocation Center.

Cal U offers a nine-credit graduate certificate program, Threat Assessment and Management in Schools, for K-12 and university educators. The fully online program merges the perspectives of criminal justice and school psychology to help school personnel identify threats of violence and respond appropriately before and during an emergency.

About 90 people, primarily law enforcement officials from municipal, county and state agencies, attended the forum. It was presented by the FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA) and the School Safety Advocacy Council (SSCA), in collaboration with Cal U's Department of Criminal Justice.

“In 81% of school shootings, someone had prior knowledge of the shooter’s plan,” said Truver, a graduate of the FBI National Academy and second vice president of the FBINAA’s executive board.

“If you hear something, see something, don’t assume that someone else will speak up. Students need to report what they know.”

John Kennedy, director of education and training for the FBINAA, said the FBI monitors and investigates reported threats in an effort to minimize the potential for violence. Someone speaking up, even if they are unsure about whether a threat is real, truly can make a difference.

“You need to get that information to the professionals, so they can investigate to see if it’s credible,” Kennedy said.

The forum focused heavily on the need for schools, law enforcement agencies and first responders to work collaboratively before and during an emergency, Kennedy said.

Participants reviewed “lessons learned” from previous school shootings and worked together to create coordinated emergency response plans.

Speakers included retired police Chief Tony Pustizzi, a 30-year veteran of the Coral Springs Police Department, which responded to the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Western Pennsylvania is a national model for cooperative law enforcement efforts, Truver noted. In addition to the primary presenters, the Western Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, Allegheny County Chiefs of Police Association and local FBINAA chapter supported the program. Cal U personnel were among those in attendance.

“We collaborate. We know each other. Many of these men and women have worked and trained together,” Truver said.

Similar forums have been held in Columbia, S.C. and Kansas City, Kan., with future events scheduled for Denver, Houston, Chicago and Boston.

“The response has been very positive,” Kennedy said. “We’re starting that dialogue between school administrators and law enforcement.”