Mike Masterson and Don Coberly: Boise police, educators work together to protect our kids

December 14, 2013 

Creating a safe and secure learning environment for our community's students and school staff requires a partnership among police, our schools and parents.

One year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, let us all pause to remember those lives lost on that day and recommit ourselves to keeping our students and school staff safe.

We are fortunate to live in a community where police and our public schools have a well-established and effective relationship regarding school safety and security. We must continue to work together proactively to educate our children on safety measures, to work with the entire school community to identify threats before they strike, and to create a safe environment for school children and staff.

Education in today's schools includes personal safety. In 1975, the Boise Police Department was one of the first in the nation to fund and assign police officers in schools.

Today, over 20 dedicated school resource officers provide the foundation for the partnership among police, schools and parents. SRO's work to educate students on safety, work with parents who experience a huge variety of problems, and with school staff to create safe learning environments.

We are committed to seeing that police, school staff, parents and students work together to identify potential threats and take appropriate actions to protect our students and school staff members.

Over the past year, Boise police and the Boise School District worked together to create a response and training program that includes the very latest in threat response planning. The training is similar to workplace violence preparedness taking place in many offices, but it takes on particular significance because the safety of our children is involved.

In addition, Boise police and Boise schools will continue to focus on providing a safe and secure learning environment by:

• Providing ongoing safety and security training for staff.

• Regularly practicing drills at each school.

• Reviewing and revising emergency response plans at each school.

• Launching a new emergency text messaging system.

It is our hope that no one in our community ever needs to use emergency response training. However, the training creates greater awareness through discussion and preparation, which itself may lessen the chance our community will suffer the tragedy others have had to bear.

Children are our community's greatest resource and the promise of a brighter tomorrow. Protecting children and staff from harm is our first priority. This protection requires not just discussion, but active commitment from all of us to acknowledge threats exist and to take concrete steps to protect against those threats.

Awareness of what's happening in our homes, our neighborhoods, our schools and our community is necessary to protect children from those who would do them harm, while still allowing them the freedom to grow, to learn and to build a healthy, successful future.

Mike Masterson is Boise police chief, and Don Coberly is Boise school superintendent.

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