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Tuesday, February 27, 2018
County to Expand Program to Prevent School Violence
Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced that the Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a motion she co-authored with Supervisor Janice Hahn to enhance the role of the county’s School Threat Assessment Response Team (START) program.
To prevent campus violence through early identification and intervention of at-risk youths and young adults, the Department of Mental Health created START in 2009 to partner with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to develop a regional approach to targeted school violence.
“Early identification and intervention are vital in our mutual effort to identify and prevent possible incidents of school violence,” said Supervisor Barger. “We cannot ignore the red flags and we must actively seek out troubled young people and get them the help they need before a tragedy occurs.”
START is currently staffed with 10 clinicians working with local law enforcement to respond to reports of potential school violence. In the past year, START conducted interventions with 127 students and in the past week START has received 63 referrals. Since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, local law enforcement have intervened in credible threats of violence against schools in Whittier, Long Beach, Santa Clarita, Inglewood, Bellflower, Los Angeles, and Cerritos.
“I have no doubt that START has saved lives,” said Supervisor Hahn. “But they are stretched thin. In a county of 10 million residents, we need more than 10 people working on this issue. We need to give them the resources they need to take every single threat seriously because our children’s lives are at stake.”
County staff will provide a report back to the Board in 30-days with recommendations to enhance START including program expansion.
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