Local News: Sikeston SROs Participate in Safe Schools Summit (11/23/22)

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Sikeston R-6 School Resource Officers Brent Mullin (left) and Tyler Rowe with the Sikeston Department of Public Safety pose together Friday, November 18, 2022 at Sikeston High School. SROs attended the 2022 Midwest School Safety Summit on November 2-3 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Leonna Heuring / Standard Democrat

SIKESTON — Two Sikeston R-6 School Resource Officers participated in a conference earlier this month, hearing stories from a mother from Sandy Hook Elementary, the former principal of Columbine High School and others directly affected by school shootings for the purpose of developing and creating tools. to improve safety and security in their school communities.

Sikeston R-6 School Resource Officers Brent Mullin and Tyler Rowe of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety attended the 2022 Midwest School Safety Summit on November 2-3 in Kansas City, Missouri.

“They weren’t trying to tell us how to do it but what they learned,” Rowe said of the presenters they heard from. “A lot of people we heard from said, ‘Learn from our mistakes. Here’s what we did right. Here’s what we also didn’t do. Here is where we could have improved. Take our missteps and learn from them and make sure it’s done right.

Mullin agreed.

“They were telling us what we can do better – because you can always do better,” Mullin said.

The conference, which focused on national best practices, methods and programs for comprehensive school safety, included keynote speakers Michele Gay and Frank DeAngelis.

Sandy Hook’s mother, educator and co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools, Gay shared how a personal tragedy – the December 14, 2012 elementary school shooting in Newton, Connecticut – caused her to rethink school safety. school and inspired her to develop the “Framework for Comprehensive School Safety” which guides school communities nationwide in their efforts to ensure safe and healthy schools.

Mullin noted that Gay pointed out that Sandy Hook had no reunification procedures after the shooting and that their students had never encountered police, fire, EMS in the community before the tragedy.

DeAngelis, who is the former principal of Columbine High School, discussed leadership and lessons learned from the April 20, 1999 shooting at a high school in Columbine, Colorado. Through his personal experiences, DeAngelis addressed the challenges and realities of doing the right thing as a leader. His message included reminding school officials to prioritize what is best for children, families and school staff.

“It’s always good to hear someone else’s point of view. You think you’re doing your program well, then you start thinking, “We can do something better back home.”

Rowe agreed.

“Or it reaffirms what you are doing,” he added.

Mullin and Rowe said they also heard of a multidisciplinary team of public school leaders in Frederick County, Va., including Frederick County Sheriff, Sheriff Lenny Millholland, who share the vision, strategy, people and programs working together to keep their students and teachers safe and sound. .

The SROs participated in discussions with officials in Tennessee. In 2015, the Tennessee School Safety Center launched the Tennessee School Safety Mentor Program with the goal of providing school safety training and technical assistance to schools.

Sikeston officers said they were able to meet and chat with many presenters during the two-day event.

“The most important thing they talked about is that we’re not going to stop it, it’s not if, it’s when. And then how do we react once it happens,” said Rowe.

Rowe said the training provided insights from parents, school officials and law enforcement.

“This summit encompassed all working parts of a school district: superintendents, building superintendents, school board members, directors of school safety and law enforcement,” Rowe said.

Both Mullin and Rowe noted that school resource officers from the R-1 school districts of New Madrid County and Cape Girardeau also attended the summit.

Sikeston officers said their goal was to continue to build relationships with the community’s young population. Based on new information they learned at the summit, they said they would also like to create a “family atmosphere” and find a way to include all students.

Another takeaway from the summit, Rowe said, is that they were able to add many resources to the emergency operation plan with the schools.

“We can continue to plan and organize for these incidents, whether it’s a natural disaster or an act of violence at school,” Rowe said.

Officers said they and the DPS were in constant communication with school district officials and also met regularly with Sikeston DPS detectives about the community.

“There are things that are going to happen in the community where the students are involved, and we want to make sure that whatever is happening in the community that we are aware of can prevent those incidents from happening in the schools,” said said Rowe.

The summit also helped SROs connect with companies focused on school safety.

“We got to talk to different companies and see what they can offer our school,” Rowe said. “We were not only there for training, but we also found different equipment, different technologies that we can offer to our school board, to our administrators to increase the safety and security of schools.

Sikeston R-6 SROs congratulated the district and school board for providing the opportunity and funding to attend the summit.

“The safety of our students at Sikeston Public Schools is our top priority,” said R-6 Superintendent Shannon Holifield. “We recognize the impact our SROs have in our district and are excited to offer them the opportunity to attend the Midwest School Safety Summit. We are fortunate to have a strong relationship with our Sikeston DPS which helps us provide a safe learning environment for our students.

Plans are to add more ORS in the R-6 district. At its September meeting, the Sikeston R-6 Board of Education approved an amendment to its contract to provide additional policing services with the Town of Sikeston. With the amendment, a fund contribution increase was approved to help the Sikeston Department of Public Safety add a third full-time School Resource Officer, or SRO, to the district.

“Right now, DPS is making strides to fill those spots and put school safety first in our operations,” Rowe said.

Both Rowe and Mullin said continuing to attend the annual summit or similar trainings is something they and the district could benefit from.

“You can never acquire enough knowledge,” Mullin added.

Rowe said he and Mullin were able to return from the summit and work with Holifield, assistant superintendent of secondary and professional development Tiffany Morgan, assistant superintendent of elementary and special services, Dr. Kimberley Blissett, as well as the safety coordinator of the district Scott Ezell to take the resources of all the different formations and organizations to build the best possible safety for the students of Sikeston R-6 schools.

Rowe said, “Working with the Missouri School Boards‘ Association and our school board to attend these trainings will be the greatest benefit in the future if we all have a vested interest in similar trainings to achieve the same goal which ultimately is safety school.

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