By Christopher Skor
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) - A school safety task force in St. Charles County has identified a series of recommendations to improve security across local campuses.
The Schools, Mental Health and Emergency Services Task Force was established in December 2012 to study and make suggestions for safety procedures in public and private schools and colleges in the county. The task force met with school officials, as well as mental health and law enforcement authorities, to develop ideas.
According to Dr. Bernard DuBray, Superintendent of the Fort Zumwalt School District and task force chairman, the meetings proved beneficial and played a crucial role in starting the project off in the right direction.
The initial report submitted by the task force included recommendations to encourage state legislature to funnel funds into the police department with regard to increasing school resource officers.
It also urges the community to focus on increased funding for school-based mental health services, including awareness training and preemptive ways to try and identify and help troubled youth.
The task force even suggested the district take improved safety measures into consideration in the design and planning phases for new school buildings.
The task force's report includes the following 12 recommendations:
1. That parties explore opportunities to expand the use of School Resource Officers in high schools and middle schools;
2. The County invite its contractor, Motorola Solutions, to present to all schools and law enforcement in the county technical solutions available for installation in school facilities that would connect into the County's new emergency radio communications system;
3. Law enforcement and schools establish liaisons and ongoing working relationships between one another;
4. When education institutions build or renovate school facilities that they be done so with a focus on facility security;
5. All schools be made aware of mental and behavioral health resources, including Behavior Health Response's 24-hour response access line and mental health first-aid training;
6. All education institutions implement a mechanism for identifying troubled students, such as Fort Zumwalt School District's Risk/Threat Assessment Worksheet or the St. Charles Community College Behavior Intervention Team (BIT) approach, and integrate law enforcement participation into such procedures;
7. The community focus on increased funding for school based mental health services;
8. For information to be shared with all schools so that they know to request Crisis Intervention Trained officers when necessary;
9. Encourage the state legislature to identify funds to assist police departments in expanding assignment of School Resource Officers;
10. Work toward de-stigmatization of mental health issues;
11. That the County Council review the state of the law regarding video games sales and ratings; and
12. That schools review their policies regarding entrances and exits both during the day and after-hours and take appropriate steps to ensure safety.