SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Local schools are taking action countywide to combat threats and shootings. A new school safety protocol aims to stop violence before it breaks out.
Last month, school districts and police officers from all over the county attended the first ever School Safety Summit.
“We want to assure our community and all of our students that it is our priority that schools be safe zones,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan.
The DA said school safety starts with knowing the warning signs and reporting threats.
“When you see something, say something. When you hear something, say something,” said Stephan.
The new school safety protocol includes annual active shooter drills on campuses, adding rooftop numbers to school buildings identifiable by police helicopters, and printing a school threat hotline on the back of student identification cards.
Once a threat is reported to school police, officers will file a suspicious activity report in a countywide database that links the specific threat with the child's name.
“We're using (the database) to be able to keep a good eye on school threats and be able to track school threats. If that person moves around from school to school, we are still able to maintain that information,” Stephan said.
If the threat is serious, it can result in felony charges filed in juvenile court. Convicted students can then be prohibited from owning a firearm until age 30. Warrants can also be issued to track a student's cell phone location.
“We look at each threat. We look at whether the kid has access to weapons, whether they have made other threats in the past, and whether they have a specific grievance against someone at the school,” said Stephan.
In other cases, students can be ordered to undergo psychological evaluations and required to enroll in restorative justice programs.
“(Restorative justice) involves putting, for example, a principal of a school, or a teacher, or other students together in a room with the offender, the person who made the threat, and having a moderated conversation,” said Stephen.
It is common for school shooters to make subtle or not-so subtle hints to their friends in advance of an attack.
Seventy percent of school shooters felt bullied or threatened by other students before the attack took place.
You can report a school threat online or call Crimestoppers at (888) 580-8477.