Don Bridges (left), president of the National Association of School Resource Officers is pictured with Michele Gay, co-founder and executive director of Safe and Sound Schools, at the Campus Safety East Conference in Washington, D.C.

Safe and Sound Schools is honored to partner with Campus Safety Magazine as a proud sponsor of the Third Annual Campus Safety Conferences in the East and West.

The Campus Safety East Conference kicked off in Washington, D.C. on July 25-26. The Safe and Sound Schools team was in attendance. 

About the Conferences

The Campus Safety Conferences bring together industry thought leaders and solution providers. Education and training workshops cover a wide range of topics including emergency preparedness, threat assessment, crisis communication, sexual assault, social media monitoring, mental health, and more. Presenters offer best practices, drawing on real experiences, events, and current safety concerns. In addition to attending conference sessions, attendees have the opportunity to participate in hot topic discussions and meet with companies showcasing safety and security products, services and technologies.

Attend the Campus Safety West Conference

It’s not too late to mix and mingle with school safety experts and industry colleagues. The Campus Safety Conferences offer a great opportunity for attendees to hear from a variety perspectives. Interested folks can still sign up for the Campus Safety West Conference, in Long Beach, California, taking place this August 9-10.

As with the Campus Safety East Conference, our team will also be attending the Campus Safety West Conference. Stop by our booth and use the hashtag #CSWest16 so we can learn about your experience.

By Kevin Quinn

Earlier this week, in Part 1 of this blog discussion, I described two primary considerations schools need to address when thinking about arming school staff members. In today’s post, I will pose some additional thoughts and questions related to the discussion.

Carry or Secure

Staff members permitted to carry or access a weapon discover a lot of new responsibilities and considerations. Carrying a concealed weapon everyday isn’t as easy as un-tucking your shirt; and maintaining both security of and access to the firearm is not always simple.

  • Will permitted staff members carry a firearm at all times or will they secure the weapon (until needed) during the day?
  • What is the best means to secure the weapon and still enable access in an emergency?
  • Do local laws allow for carrying a weapon? Are individuals permitted to “open carry” or must the weapon be concealed?

Force Considerations

Police officers have other options for force in situations where use of a firearm would be unsafe or inappropriate. Impact weapons, chemical weapons, electronic control devices, and control and restraint techniques are several examples. In a crowded school hallway, the use of a firearm may not be a realistic or safe option.

Other Concerns

In addition to these major questions, there are multiple administrative concerns to address:

  • Is the school district prepared to absorb the increased cost of insurance?
  • What types of weapons and ammunition will be authorized?
  • How often will training and certification be provided for civilian staff members?
  • Who will pay for the costs associated with purchasing firearms, ammunition and training staff?

Another Option: SROs

Although placing School Resource Officers (SRO) in schools can be a financial and logistical challenge for many districts, I believe the best option for enhancing school safety is the presence of a properly trained SRO.

An SRO is a sworn officer, fully certified, properly equipped, and trained to deal with safety crises that may arise on school campuses. These officers also have direct radio contact with other responding officers during critical incidents. Further, SROs are available to guide and instruct students and staff in a variety of important areas of safety (e.g. driver safety, basic first aid, bike safety, drugs, etc.), as well as establish positive and supportive relationships with students.

Instead of trying to stop a “bad guy with a gun” with a “good guy with a gun,” I suggest we focus on providing schools with a sworn police officer, trained as a School Resource Officer.

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Kevin Quinn is a 20-year veteran police officer and SRO in Arizona and the former President of the National Association of School Resource Officers. He is the current President of the Arizona School Resource Officers Association as well as an advisor to several school safety organizations. He can be reached on Twitter @klah316 or email kquinn@asroa.org.

By Kevin Quinn

There has been much talk about school safety and active shooters. One solution discussed at great lengths is arming school staff to deter and respond to an active shooter. Some people say the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. I wish it were that easy, but there are several considerations to take when the topic of arming school staff members arises. For today’s blog, I will discuss two primary issues, identification and training. In Part 2 of this blog post, I will cover the remaining issues.

Identification

schoolsecurity-6c52aaecAs a police officer, I wear a uniform that identifies me to other officers and the public. Even if responders can’t see my face, they know I am not the suspect and can react accordingly when locating the threat. Unfortunately, teachers do not dress any differently than regular civilians and do not stand out in a crowd at a school – especially high schools and colleges where the students are older than elementary school students.

Furthermore, when officers arrive at the scene of an active shooter, our first goal is to end the violence. As we attempt to locate the suspect, we look for someone with a weapon. Imagine we come across Mr. Jones, the math teacher, in the hallway with his gun drawn. Chances are, Mr. Jones will be detained until his identity can be confirmed. That is, of course, if Mr. Jones doesn’t react in a way the officers deem a threat. In that case, there is a possibility of injury. But here’s another alarming variable –time – precious time that officers should be spending locating and apprehending the suspect.

Training

How much training will the armed staff members receive when the program is put into place? How much on-going annual training will they receive? How many hours will a staff member train before being allowed to carry a gun in schools? Depending on the location in the country, I have heard everything from eight to 24 hours of firearms training. It is important to realize that being able to shoot holes in paper does NOT mean you are ready for a potential deadly-force encounter. That readiness comes with intensive force-on-force training, decision-making scenarios, and high-stress combat shooting.

As you can see, identification and training alone raise several questions we need to consider before deciding to arm our school staff members. Look for Part 2 of the blog post, later this week.

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Kevin Quinn is a 20-year veteran police officer and SRO in Arizona and the former President of the National Association of School Resource Officers. He is the current President of the Arizona School Resource Officers Association as well as an advisor to several school safety organizations. He can be reached on Twitter @klah316 or email kquinn@asroa.org.

Status solutions sponsors Safe and Sound Schools initiative 

Status Solutions announced today that they’re a proud sponsor of Safe and Sound Schools. Status Solutions will work closely with Safe and Sounds Schools and co-founder Michele Gay to protect students, educators, and the community by increasing public awareness of safety and security concerns, thus advocating for safer schools.

Safe and Sounds Schools was initiated by Sandy Hook parents, educators, and community members – all of whom are inspired by the children and educators whose lives were tragically taken on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary.  Since its founding, the organization has grown to a national network of school communities and safety experts and professionals.

Safe and Sound Schools is a Sandy Hook initiative for safer schools founded in Newtown, Connecticut by a mother and former teacher, Michele Gay along with another Sandy Hook mother, Alissa Parker. This initiative takes a grassroots approach to empower communities to improve school safety and security through discussion, collaboration, planning and sharing of information, tools, and resources.

“At Safe and Sound Schools, we are thrilled to be working with a company that can not only help in our efforts but share in our passion. As parents, we have a natural will to protect our children, teachers and community from the unsettling world we live in. Status Solutions has provided a way for us to advance our mission and reach even more communities with our message and free resources.” says Michele Gay, founder of Safe and Sound Schools.

“Status Solutions recognizes the need to cultivate relationships with those who desire the same outcome. The foundation of this company is to help people, the best way to do that is by understanding who they are and what they need. Our sponsorship with Safe and Sound Schools educates Status Solutions with an honest perspective, allowing us to see the full picture. This relationship is the beginning of an empowerment initiative, uniting our communities to achieve one common goal—safer schools.” explains president of Status Solutions, Mike MacLeod.

Both Status Solutions and Safe and Sounds School are attending the Campus Safety East Conference on July 25th and 26th. This conference is “for administrators and public safety officials, security and law enforcement executives from all over the country looking for solutions to campus safety, security, emergency management and technology challenges.” according to the Campus Safety East Conference website. The conference demonstrates new safety and security approaches and tactics from leading industry experts to reduce risk and improve response. Additionally, Status Solutions is excited to utilize these two days to strategize with Safe and Sounds Schools for the upcoming years of advocacy and public awareness for safer schools.

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Supporting both the east and west events extends organization’s reach and influence among school safety experts

NEWTOWN, Conn. – July 20, 2016 – Safe and Sound Schools announced its sponsorship of the 3rd Annual Campus Safety Conference, both East (July 25-26, 2016, in National Harbor, MD) and West (August 9-10 2016, in Long Beach, CA) events.

As an Association Sponsor, Safe and Sound Schools is further investing in its mission to empower communities to improve school safety. The Campus Safety Conference is a two-day intense conference for administrators and public safety officials, security and law enforcement executives from all over the country looking for solutions to campus safety, security, emergency management and technology challenges.

Attendees will hone their skills, improve their departments’ incident and response programs, and upgrade their school, university, or college protection profile. In addition, they will hear from the leading safety and security experts, learn strategies and tactics to reduce risk and improve response, learn first-hand about best practices and procedures for emergency response, and walk away ready to prepare and plan for emergency situations, protect students and faculty, and prevent a crisis on campus.

“To achieve our mission to empower schools to improve school safety, it is important to support not just local school communities, but the entire school safety ecosystem and events such as Campus Safety Conferences,” said Michele Gay, executive director and co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools. “Through our booths and involvement at both the East and West events, we hope to share our free tools and resources with more people responsible for the public safety and security of our nation’s schools, universities, and colleges so that together, we can rethink school safety.”

Safe and Sound Schools supporters can use the special discount code, SAS15, to receive a 15% discount on registration.

For more information about Safe and Sound Schools, including free assessment tools, tool kits and resources, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org.

About Safe and Sound Schools

Safe and Sound Schools is a non-profit organization founded by Sandy Hook parents who lost their children during the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. Winner of the 2015 SBANE New England Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools is dedicated to empowering communities to improve school safety through discussion, collaboration, planning, and sharing of information, tools, and resources. To get involved, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org.

 

The recent series of violent events and tragedy across our country have devastated community after community, family after family.  Our hearts are heavy for each of the communities, families, and victims touched by this violence. We at Safe and Sound Schools are working within our network of school safety professionals and community members to support and prepare schools for addressing these issues and fostering positive, peaceful dialogue. Together, we can prepare to welcome our students and families back to a safe and reassuring school environment.

The following statement is contributed by Safe and Sound Advisor, Dr. Melissa Reeves on behalf of the National Association of School Psychologists.

We join the nation in sorrow and outrage at the senseless acts of recurring violence. The level of anger and violence in this country is unacceptable and is a heartbreaking symptoms of serious underlying societal problems.

As parents, caregivers, and educators, we have a critical responsibility to help children and youth understand the challenges at hand within a problem-solving context and see themselves as active participants in our collective national commitment to liberty and justice for all.

It is our hope that the nation will take a lesson or two from how effective schools contribute—on a daily basis—to children’s understanding of what it means to be part of a positive community. School communities succeed in large measure because they maintain values that shape a positive learning environment. These values are expressed in the following ways.

  • Adults model and teach desired behaviors. Adults can help children and youth manage their reactions to events in the news and their communities by understanding their feelings, modeling healthy coping strategies, and redirecting negative thoughts and feelings.
  • What we say and how we say it matters.  Adults should model civil discourse and provide opportunities to engage children and youth in conversations that focus on common goals rather than labeling groups of people for individual behavior.
  • Other people’s perspectives matter. The very nature of civil disagreement is to acknowledge respectfully the views and experiences of other people and learn from differing perspectives. Adults can create safe spaces for youth to share their feelings and concerns while also exploring how they might feel and act if they were in someone else’s shoes.  
  • Trusting relationships are essential. Establishing positive relationships between adults and students is foundational to safe, successful learning environments. Schools can provide opportunities to strengthen positive interactions with law enforcement, such as engaging SROs as integral members of the school team.
  • Safety and well-being are a shared responsibility. We each have a role in countering violence, inequity, and isolation. Being silent is not a responsible option. We have to actively counter anger and hate with acceptance and compassion everywhere.
  • Contributions and effort are recognized and valued. We can and must honestly address systemic problems, but we must also acknowledge the individual citizens of all races and ethnicities, public servants and leaders, and members of law enforcement who go above and beyond to do the right thing every day.

There is no more important endeavor than helping our children and youth become positive, productive, valued citizens. We start by making their safety and well-being an unequivocal priority no matter where they learn, play, and live. Together we can work together to counter hate and violence and bring positive change and unity to our country.

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Dr. Melissa Louvar Reeves is the current President-Elect of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). She is a nationally certified school psychologist, licensed professional counselor, and licensed special education teacher.

Untitled designNEWTOWN, Conn. – July 16, 2016Safe and Sound Schools has received a $5,000 donation from the Newtown, CT Big Y World Class Market to support the organization’s mission of improving school safety. While Safe and Sound is a national movement, this donation represents the impact Safe and Sound has on local communities.

“The Newtown Big Y was Joey’s favorite place to shop,” said Michele Gay, executive director and co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools, and mother to Josephine Gay, who lost her life in the Sandy Hook shooting on December 14, 2012. “Big Y has always been there for our family, and now, with its generous donation to Safe and Sound Schools, Big Y is reaching families and children across the country. I applaud Big Y for its leadership and local support, and through this donation, helping to keep our schools safe.”

The donation from Big Y will support Safe and Sound’s efforts to empower communities to improve school safety. Safe and Sound provides tools, resources and programs at no cost, to encourage schools to rethink school safety plans, measures, and practices. The organization’s framework, Straight A Safety, is an active and continual process to help schools Assess, Act, and Audit. Safe and Sound Schools’ community-wide education programs build stronger partnerships among parents, administrators, educators, students and first responders, and address all aspects of school safety such as fire, bus, environment, security and health and wellness.

Big Y is committed to making a difference in the communities around its stores. Aside from the donation to Safe and Sound Schools, it also provides the Big Y Scholarship Programs, and other community programs such as food drives.

For more information about Safe and Sound Schools, including free assessment tools, tool kits and resources, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org.

About Safe and Sound Schools

Safe and Sound Schools is a non-profit organization founded by Sandy Hook parents who lost their children during the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. Winner of the 2015 SBANE New England Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools is dedicated to empowering communities to improve school safety through discussion, collaboration, planning, and sharing of information, tools, and resources. To get involved, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org

Staples associate nominated Safe and Sound Schools for its efforts to improve school safety

NEWTOWN, Conn. – June 15, 2016 – Staples Foundation, the private charitable arm of Staples, Inc., has awarded a $500 grant to Safe and Sound Schools in recognition of its ongoing efforts to educate communities about proactive school safety measures.

Through a program called 2 Million & Change that allows Staples associates around the globe to direct more than $2 million in donations each year, a Massachusetts-based Staples associate nominated Safe and Sound Schools for a grant based on the organization’s commitment to creating safer schools nationwide.

“Gaining recognition from an international brand like Staples is a true testament to the impact Safe and Sound Schools is having on school safety,” said Michele Gay, executive director and co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools. “We are growing, we are reaching more communities, and our tools and programs are encouraging schools to rethink school safety plans, measures and practices. With support from organizations such as Staples, we can continue our community-wide education programs and help build stronger partnerships among parents, administrators, educators, students and first responders.”

Safe and Sound Schools is focused on a broad outreach effort in hopes that no other community has to endure a school-related tragedy. Just as the country has improved fire safety through better fire education and training, Safe and Sound Schools aims to improve other areas of safety schools face today.

For more information about Safe and Sound Schools, including free assessment tools, tool kits and resources, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org.

About Safe and Sound Schools

Safe and Sound Schools is a non-profit organization founded by Sandy Hook parents who lost their children during the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. Winner of the 2015 SBANE New England Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools is dedicated to empowering communities to improve school safety through discussion, collaboration, planning, and sharing of information, tools, and resources. To get involved, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org.

About Staples Community and Giving

Staples contributes to educational and job-related community efforts with a primary focus on disadvantaged youth, from literacy and mentoring to career skills development, through in-kind and monetary donations and grants from Staples Foundation, the private charitable arm of Staples, Inc. Through its community and giving efforts, Staples has helped thousands of organizations in 26 countries. For more information, visit www.staples.com/community.

Staples

Second Quarter BlogIt seems like just yesterday we welcomed 2016 and yet here we are, several days into second half of the year. We kicked off the first quarter with a new website and several travels to various communities in the country, our second quarter has been no different. We’ve kept busy and true to our mission: empowering communities to improve schools safety.

In April, co-founder, Michele Gayand speaker’s bureau member, Melissa Reeves, traveled to Virginia to hold reunification trainings with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. Around the same time, co-founder, Alissa Parker, board member, Bob Martin, and speaker’s bureau member, Tau Braun, attended the Preparedness Summit in Dallas, Texas. April travels culminated in Massachusetts where Michele Gay spoke at the Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Conference.

Meanwhile, Safe and Sound Schools focused its online efforts toward school safety and autism awareness. For the blog, Michele Gay shared her family’s personal experience as an autism family while Lisa Borges, executive director of The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, shared safety resources and information for families with autistic children. Safe and Sound Schools also partnered with FEMA, to encourage families to participate in America’s PrepareAThon.  

With May in full swing, Michele traveled to Oklahoma to revisit the students of Moore High School and closed out May travels with a visit to Palm Beach, Florida to keynote at the ASIS Law Enforcement Officer Awards.

In the social sphere, Safe and Sound Schools focused on mental health awareness, teacher appreciation week, nurse’s week, youth traffic safety month and EMS week.

As the end of the school year neared, Safe and Sound Schools turned much of its attention to school resource officers. In June, Safe and Sound Schools headed to Tennessee and Wyoming to hold all-day workshops and presentations. With the end of June approaching, Alissa Parker visited Sacramento, California to keynote at the California Department of Public Health’s 2016 Emergency Preparedness Training Workshop: Path to Preparedness. Safe and Sound Schools closed out the second quarter with a trip to Colorado to convene with SROs.

While the Safe and Sound family traveled, online efforts continued with a focus on SROs, national safety month, therapy dogs, allergy awareness month, and special message from Robbie Parker in honor of Father’s Day.

Now that we’ve reached the third quarter, we look forward to sharing some of our new initiatives that will take us into the fourth quarter, including student-focused resources. So, stay tuned for more updates by joining the Safe and Sound family and following us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

#100DaysOfSafetyHappy 4th of July. I hope you are reveling in the warm summer days. Whether you have just finished up the year, or are preparing to return, it’s never too early to think about how to do better in the next school year.

Our teachers are already thinking about new lesson plans and teaching strageties. Our parents want to help their students be more successful in the new school year. And our administrators are looking at ways to improve the educational experience and overall school performance.

Here at Safe and Sound Schools, we never stop thinking about ways to improve school safety. That’s why this summer, we’re providing daily tips to help provide you with some new ideas. Check out our #100DaysofSafety campaign on social media. It just takes one small idea to make a big difference.

During these few shorts weeks of summer, we wish peace and quiet, time with your loved ones, and an opportunity to rethink school safety and recharge for the year ahead.

Keep up with #100DaysOfSafety on our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

– Michele Gay