After two meetings in January the Schools, Mental Health and Emergency Services Task Force has submitted its Initial Report of Findings to St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann.
The Task Force was tasked with making initial findings to the County Executive on security measures, policies and training, enhanced security options, on-site school security reviews, and other measures designed to enhance the security of schools throughout the county and on Feb. 7 it did just that. The task force compiled 12 recommendations based on the findings of the two meetings.
The recommendations are:
- That parties explore opportunities to expand the use of School Resource Officers in high schools and middle schools;
- The County invite its contractor, Motorola Solutions, to present to all schools and law enforcement in the county technical solutions available for installation in school facilities that would connect into the County’s new emergency radio communications system;
- Law enforcement and schools establish liaisons and ongoing working relationships between one another;
- When education institutions build or renovate school facilities that they be done so with a focus on facility security;
- All schools be made aware of mental and behavioral health resources, including Behavior Health Response’s 24-hour response access line and mental health first-aid training;
- All education institutions implement a mechanism for identifying troubled students, such as Fort Zumwalt School District’s Risk/Threat Assessment Worksheet or the St. Charles Community College Behavior Intervention Team (BIT) approach, and integrate law enforcement participation into such procedures;
- The community focus on increased funding for school based mental health services;
- For information to be shared with all schools so that they know to request Crisis Intervention Trained officers when necessary;
- Encourage the state legislature to identify funds to assist police departments in expanding assignment of School Resource Officers;
- Work toward de-stigmatization of mental health issues;
- That the County Council review the state of the law regarding video games sales and ratings; and
- That schools review their policies regarding entrances and exits both during the day and after-hours and take appropriate steps to ensure safety.
While the task force had no real power to make changes, it has suggested that the Initial Report of Findings be shared with all school administrators in the County. In addition, they asked that County staff arrange for an event or forum at which all school administrators and law enforcement be in attendance to present the Task Force’s findings, to hear presentations from mental health providers and to share information about accessing services and identifying troubled students.
Ehlmann will review the Initial Findings Report and the Task Force will determine next steps in March. The Final Report is due June 1, 2013. A full copy of the Initial Findings Report is available on the Schools, Mental Health and Emergency Services Task Force page under Departments – Boards and Commissions on St. Charles County’s website, www.sccmo.org.