With a new school year just a few weeks away, school security will once again be a concern for parents after some horrific shootings last year, including in Parkland, Florida.
School districts here in the Omaha area are now looking for ways to identify threats earlier and deal with them more quickly. 3 News Now reporter Jon Kipper explains what some are doing to protect your kids.
A recent report from the U.S. Secret Service on school shooting prevention, recommended that all school districts nationwide make it easy for students and teachers to report suspicious behavior in a discreet and anonymous manner. After checking in with the metro school districts, all of them already have a system in place.
"I can tell you after talking with other superintendents, everyone is looking for a way to make it easy for our community to be able to speak out." Students at Council Bluffs Public Schools can now call a hotline or use the district app if they see something in school that could lead to violence. But Superintendent Vickie Murillo isn't stopping there. This upcoming school year, they'll introduce a new way for students to reach out discreetly. "We began this summer to look at, what's another vehicle we could use, to allow them the opportunity to have a one stop shop and be able to either call in, email or text."
The new phone line called "Speak Out CB"' is open to everybody in the community to easily report possible threats to the school, as well as any other messages students want the district to hear about. "We know that all of our students and most parents now days love to text, and how easy and safe is it to be able to text in that information."
Every metro public school district has something in place for students to report threats. Many including Omaha Public Schools, use the Boys Town Safe Schools hotline. Four Sarpy County districts have an online system led by the sheriffs department which collects a wide range of tips. "So and so has a list of kids he hates, to this kid brought a knife to school, some things that are silly." Captain Kevin Griger says the program is working, two years in 400 tips have been reported. "I think Sarpy County is ahead of the curve in Nebraska, we're ahead of the curve nationally, but we're still not where we need to be, we can still do more things to make our schools safer."
The Sarpy County program may have already saved lives as Captain Griger says that they have intervened three times after tips indicated a student was contemplating suicide.