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City hosts school safety forum with public safety officials

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  In the wake of the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Mayor Brian Arrigo and school and public safety officials hosted a school safety community forum at the West Revere School Complex on Wednesday night. The overriding theme of the night was the close cooperation between all city departments to ensure school safety, and the need of parents and students to stay involved to help prevent an incident before it happens.

  “We have the best people in uniform who are in charge of public safety,” said Arrigo. “Between our police department and our fire department, we have unbelievable people who live and breathe making sure we are all safe.”

  Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dianne Kelly said she wants to emphasize the incredible partners the school department has with police and fire departments. “People often think that schools are institutions unto themselves, but the work that we do with this team is invaluable in making sure that our students and our staff are all safe on a day-to-day basis,” said Kelly. “The two chiefs – the police chief and the fire chief – and I are fortunate to be on the mayor’s cabinet, so we have weekly meetings that we are all in the same room together where we talk about what’s happening and what we are worried about and what we are hearing in the community and what things each of us should be focused on to ensure that safety at all times.”

  In addition, Kelly said the School Committee has a subcommittee focused solely on safety led by School Committee Member Susan Gravellese.

  Fire Chief Christopher Bright said the public safety departments have the training and tools to handle any situation, but he added that parents and students also need to be involved in the process. “I think this community does it better than most,” said Bright. “We have been really working on these relationships for years with the school resource officers and Dr. Kelly and her staff, police and fire. I think our best defense is everyone having a stake – see something, say something, listen, don’t take anything for granted, report things – and that’s our best bet to head these things off before they become a major incident.”

  Police Sgt. Joe Turner and Capt. Amy O’Hara provided some more of the details of the training and tools used by public safety personnel to help prevent and respond to issues in the schools.

  Several times, Turner talked of the high level of training Revere police receive for active shooter and other mass casualty events, and he also noted the amount of training the department’s three school resource officers go through. “It is our policy … we push this through training and practice and simple culture in our agency: that we will respond to what we like to call an active threat incident,” said Turner. “When there is a threat to people in a public, populated place, our officers are taught to intervene. Our goal is to get in there and stop the potential loss or danger to human life or stop the actual taking of such.”

  O’Hara said research shows that prevention, relationships and support are often overlooked keys to school safety, but extremely important. “Students are often the first to know of a planned attack, whether through a peer, through the grapevine or through social media,” said O’Hara. “Most of these incidents were averted because of student-reported concerns to a trusted adult – a parent, a teacher, a police officer – about a student’s concerning behavior, and then action was taken.”

  O’Hara said the students who come forward with that kind of information are coming forward because there are trusted relationships in place. “They are trusting the school resource officers, one of whose goals is creating youth interactions,” said O’Hara. “And it’s not just school resource officers; the hallmark of what we do is to build trust. It is effective policing and it keeps our community secure and safe.”

  School Committee Member Aisha Milbury-Ellis asked if there are plans to increase the number of school resource officers in the schools. Police Chief David Callahan said the department currently has two officers going through resource officer training, and Kelly said she would like to see a female resource officer in the schools.

Ward 4 City Councillor Patrick Keefe asked a question during the public safety forum.
Police Sgt. Joe Turner discussed the training the department receives for active threat incidents.
Police Captain Amy O’Hara spoke during the public safety forum while Police Chief David Callahan looked on.

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