Collaboration around violence prevention in addition to crisis response is key to successful school safety planning, SWBOCES Supervisor of School Safety Brandon Cruz told more than 40 school and law enforcement officials.
Speaking at a workshop to review the report titled "Creating Safer Schools," Mr. Cruz said educators and law enforcement need to be joined by mental health professionals in providing a well-rounded approach to school safety.
"Today was to get the message out to school districts to let them know that there has to be a collaborative effort put into place in order to prevent, in order to mitigate incidents of school violence," Mr. Cruz said outside the Westchester County Courthouse afterward.
The Workshop was hosted by Westchester District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, whose office spearheaded the Westchester County School Safety Commission. The Commission's report was released in September.
"We believe we have presented a strong blueprint for planning, prevention and response to threats and active incidents. We also recognize that the decision to adopt or implement these suggestions are on a community need basis, based on local views," Mr. Scarpino told the assembly.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer applauded the joint effort that produced the Commission's report and said his administration believes this initiative is important.
Other speakers on hand included Assistant District Attorney Paul Noto, who spoke about Emergency Response Protection Orders, Assistant District Attorney Susan Brownbill-Vega of the Hate Crimes Unit, and former Greenburgh Police Chief Chris McNerney, who detailed some of the report's recommendations.
Mr. Cruz, through partnerships across SWBOCES's 32 component school districts, with the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and in the mental health community, has led the way in this region in building a culture and shared understanding around the crucial subject of school safety. His office offers numerous workshops and programs on threat assessment team training and other key areas of emergency response planning applicable to schools.
He said the Commission's report and its recommendations represent almost two years of work.
"So hopefully, as a result of today, we got that message out there that it's a collaborative effort. It's not just one person's job," Mr. Cruz said, "and that SWBOCES is here to help support our school districts. This is what we do. So if those school districts have more questions if they want additional assistance, they can contact us at SWBOCES."
Captions: Top right - SWBOCES Principal James Matera, SWBOCES Supervisor of School Safety Brandon Cruz, and Assistant District Attorney Paul Noto; Middle left - Westchester District Attorney Anthony Scarpino; Bottom - Poster advertising the Feb. 11 workshop on School Safety at the Westchester County Courthouse.