COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced the development of new resources to address gaps in preventing targeted violence in schools. Training curriculum now available free for local school administrators, local law enforcement and others focuses on stopping violence before it starts.
“When a shooter attacks a school we often learn afterward, there were people who knew this person posed a threat. But nothing was done,” said Yost. “We aim to prevent school violence using national proven best practices. This is not a top-down approach. Instead, we’re providing guidance to local law enforcement and school districts to fill this critical need.”
The new training materials provide guidance on the use of threat assessment protocols, recognized by education and safety experts as effective means to enhance proactive targeted violence prevention efforts. The goal of a threat assessment is to identify persons of concern, assess their risk for engaging in violence or other harmful activities, and identify intervention strategies to manage that risk. The training is provided in a series of 10 video installments and a printed reference guide. These Ohio materials are also under review to be offered as an included resource on the new Federal School Safety Clearinghouse website, SchoolSafety.gov, launched earlier this month.
“This is more than training for cops or school principals,” said Yost. “The local, state and national experts in our videos make it clear that prevention only happens when parents are involved, the local school board is involved, counselors are involved. The material we’re posting today is for everyone. It gives us all a direct connection into the effort.”
“Many people in the education field are aware of the preventative value of threat assessment,” said Professor Dewey Cornell of the University of Virginia. A noted national expert on school safety and the prevention of school violence, Cornell is among the key experts whose insights are included in the new Ohio training materials. “This Ohio effort is unique in bringing together guidance from both law enforcement and educators, both inside and outside the state, and putting that information all in one location, giving schools a great jump-start on implementing it.”
“We train school administrators, school resource officers and others about using a threat assessment model, and this is an excellent compilation of national, state and local input,” said U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center Chief Dr. Lina Alathari. “It’s being provided in a manner that can easily and immediately reach any local school building and any local law enforcement agency. We’re pleased to be involved.”
As part of the program, grants are being made available to help local schools build their own threat assessment teams. School resource officers or other law enforcement personnel with primary responsibilities that include school safety may receive a $500 Ohio School Threat Assessment Training Grant when they complete the training and agree to help form or participate on a school-based threat assessment team.
In addition to the 10-part video training series focused on threat assessments of concerning persons, an additional companion video available only to law enforcement personnel focuses on identifying vulnerabilities in the physical school building and grounds. Law enforcement personnel must complete all 11 portions of the training to qualify for the grant.
“There’s no question, threat assessments and vulnerability assessments – when they’re done properly – can stop a lot of these incidents before they happen,” said Max Schachter, who founded the nonprofit Safe Schools For Alex after his 14-year-old son was killed in his English class during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Schachter shares his thoughts within the training materials. “I feel that if a threat assessment had been done correctly, my little boy and 16 others might still be alive today. I want to thank Ohio for pushing this information to schools, law enforcement and families across the state.”
Ohio School Threat Assessment Training materials are online at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/threatassessment.